The way the first two games of the NBA Finals have gone, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Warriors returned from Cleveland on Saturday with their second consecutive NBA championship.
The Cavaliers have been outplayed, outclassed and embarrassed by the Warriors. In Game 1, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson played poorly, but Cleveland still lost by 15.
On Sunday, the Warriors obliterated the Cavs 110-77 in Game 2. The 33-point dismantling was the most lopsided win in Finals history.
Golden State has made this highly anticipated rematch of last year’s NBA Finals a bad sequel that could mercifully end this week if the Warriors win the next two games at Quicken Loans Arena.
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33 The Warriors’ margin of victory in Game 2, the largest ever in the NBA Finals
Although the Warriors’ home victories over the Cavs aren’t shocking, the margin of the victories has surprised most league observers. The Warriors don’t expect to dominate in Cleveland.
“I’m not that surprised because we’ve been such a great home team all year,” said Thompson, who scored 17 points Sunday. “But I’ll be surprised if we do it twice on the road, I’ll tell you that much. So we’ve just got to enjoy (Sunday) but quickly turn around.”
The Warriors realize things can change quickly in the postseason.
Golden State trailed 3-1 in the Western Conference finals after back-to-back blowout losses at Oklahoma City. Many expected the Warriors to be eliminated after winning a record 73 regular-season games.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he was surprised by the Warrriors’ margins of victory but added that NBA games can get out of hand.
“I remember years ago Danny Ainge had a great line when he was playing with Boston. His team won by like 35, and they asked him about it, and Danny said, ‘It’s not the Tour de France, you know?’ ” Kerr said. “ ‘We don’t start out with like a two-and-a-half-minute lead the next leg.’ It’s 2-0. Everything changes when we go to Cleveland. We know that. We have unbelievable respect for (the Cavs), and we’ve got to go on the road and try to do it again.”
The Warriors have also learned how fragile their existence in the playoffs can be due to injuries. Curry’s knee and ankle injuries left Golden State vulnerable early in the postseason and nearly cost the Warriors against Oklahoma City.
Because of those injuries in another extended season, Curry on Monday withdrew his name from consideration for a position on Team USA, which will play in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
“My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family,” Curry said in a statement. “However, due to several factors – including recent ankle and knee injuries – I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career. It’s an incredible honor to represent your country and wear ‘USA’ on your chest, but my primary basketball-related objective this summer needs to focus on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.”
Curry feels better, and the Warriors have reason to be confident. But there’s no need to give the Cavs any extra motivation.
“Only thing we did (Sunday) was defend home court,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green. “We didn’t do anything special. Everybody’s going to look and say, ‘Oh, man, they won by 35 points or 30 points’ – whatever it was. But at the end of the day, we just want to win, and we defended our home court.”
The Warriors expect a better effort from the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Game 3. Cleveland has never won an NBA championship, and this year’s team is healthier and more talented than the one that pushed the Warriors to six games in last year’s Finals.
They’ll probably play with a little more energy. That’s natural when you go home. Probably with a sense of desperation. They might go big. You never know. But we’ll be prepared.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson, on the Cleveland Cavaliers
“They’ll probably play with a little more energy,” Thompson said. “That’s natural when you go home. Probably with a sense of desperation. They might go big. You never know. But we’ll be prepared.”