Six months passed, and this atmosphere looks and feels different.
The poster of LeBron James no longer hangs outside of the Cavaliers' arena. The arena appeared nearly half-full. And as demonstrated in the Warriors' 129-105 over the Cavaliers on Wednesday, they no longer view this matchup as an NBA Finals preview. Following James' departure to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, the Warriors showed how their latest game against Cleveland could serve as a forgettable regular-season game that causes them to sleepwalk.
The Warriors (17-9) still satisfied the bottom-line results with a two-game winning streak. They showed their dominance with a third-quarter run that entailed outscoring the Cavaliers, 31-22, and 11 unanswered points. And in his third game since nursing a strained left groin, Warriors guard Stephen Curry has fully become Steph Curry again. He finished with 42 points, while shooting 11 of 20 from the field, 9 of 14 from 3-point range and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.
But only the Cavs initially treated this game with NBA Finals intensity. They finished with a 64-58 halftime lead after the Warriors committed six of their eight turnovers and conceded 20 points in the paint.
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Curry posted consecutive performances that could push him back in the regular-season MVP discussion just as he did prior to his injury, Kevin Durant added 25 points, and Warriors center Kevon Looney (eight points, six rebounds) and Jonas Jerebko (11 points, five assists, four rebounds) further cemented themselves as dependable role players.
Collin Sexton (21 points), Jordan Clarkson (17) and Rodney Hood (15) led the Cavs in scoring. The Warriors finish their five-game trip on Friday in Milwaukee.