Going into the second game of the series, the Warriors won but knew they did not play their best game. They knew they could be down by one game in this series and they were fortunate to get to overtime to win Game 1. So in Game 2, the Warriors revisited the edge they played with when their backs were against the wall. It seemed like they raced out of the blocks and the Cavaliers were just never able to get within arm's reach as the Warriors blew out the Cavaliers in Game 2 123-102. The win puts the Warriors up two games in this series and now has put some serious stress on the Cleveland Cavaliers going into Game 3. Leading the way is Steph Curry who is averaging 31 points, 8.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds. While the wins are impressive, the adjustments from the first game to this game were huge.
One big change was the pace of the game. The Warriors were slower in their execution and their pace last game. A big part of the pace changing was the play of LeBron James. He deliberately slowed down how he brought the ball up the court and he took his time offensively, finding baskets for himself and others when he needed to. The Warriors played that same style, slowing the tempo down on their end and that resulted in the offense not clicking the way it usually would for them. In Game 2, the Warriors seemed intent on pushing the tempo. As a result, the ball did not stick and was flowing all over the court. When the Warriors are using their motion offense to effortlessly move the basketball around the court, that's when they pile up the assists and it's also when they put the most stress on a defense, which is what they did to the Cavs on Sunday night.
Along with the ball movement, another huge boost was the offensive contributions of the other guys. People look for Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to score points. In Game 2, they combined for 79 points and were the stars everyone expected them to be. That amount is points is a lot, but it isn't enough to win unfortunately. The good thing for Golden State though, was they got contributions from Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell and JaVale McGee. These three role players scored 18 points total in Game 1. In Game 2, they stepped up even more, producing 27 points between the three of them. With the production of the Warriors big three along with these role players stepping up, it gave the Cavs more to think about defensively.
Defensively there was a difference as well with Golden State. The Warriors did not break from their plan of switching on LeBron James during the game. However, they did change how they guarded him in different spots on the court. The Warriors started the game crowding LeBron a lot more, making him have to handle the basketball a little bit more than he wanted to before he was able to make his move. Along with being able to make his moves sooner, when he was attacking the basket, the Warriors ran another body at him to make things a little harder on him to finish at the rim. The presence of JaVale McGee not only altered some shots LeBron took, but altered a few shots by Tristian Thompson, Kevin Love and JR Smith to start the game. The result was a Cavs offense that looked a little more disjointed than they did in Game 1 and their leader, James, not being able to be as efficient as he was in Game 1.
The Warriors definitely go the memo that Game 1 was not their best and they needed to pick it up. Now the key is to take this type of effort and use it on the road in Cleveland. If they are able to take the crowd out of the game and employ their strategy again, the Cavs could be a in a whole lot of trouble in the NBA Finals and LeBron and crew could be looking at avoiding a sweep in Game 4.