OAKLAND, Calif. — Now what can the Cavaliers do to avoid being steamrolled by the Warriors? Cleveland landed some punches early in Game 2, but Golden State took them well and scored a 132-113 blowout Sunday night at Oracle Arena for a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals heading to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday night.
LeBron James didn’t even want to think about the answer to that question in the immediate aftermath. “I don’t want to get into the ‘what we need to do better’ right now,” he said.
All James wanted to think about was getting some food and wine on the flight home.
The problem the Cavs face was underlined by the fact that James had a triple-double with 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, they outscored the Warriors by 20 points in the paint and they forced 20 turnovers that led to 23 points — and still got blown out.
“I thought with the game plan we had, we tried to execute it as close as possible,” James said. “We were much more physical today than we were in Game 1. And we forced them into 20 turnovers, and they still beat us pretty good. So we’ve got to be much better, too.”
At one point in the third quarter, the Cavs cut an 11-point deficit to four, but James committed a foul that led to two points and then committed a turnover that led to a fast-break layup plus a foul shot by Kevin Durant to ignite a 16-4 run that gave the Warriors a 16-point lead.
“We had a turnover — it came from me — and then we had a miscue and the floods opened again,” James said.
How do the Cavs stem the tide? They hope the atmosphere back home at Quicken Loans Arena will make a difference Wednesday night and in Game 4 on Friday. The Cavs came back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to beat the Warriors last year, but that was before Golden State added Durant.
“They’re a different team,” James said, referring to Durant. “You guys asked me, ‘What was the difference?’ And I told you. They’re a different team.”
Kevin Love said the Cavs played much better than in Game 1 but simply allowed the Warriors to go on too many scoring runs. “We had our chances to take control of the game, and we didn’t do that,” he said. “But we’re hoping it’s going to be a different story when we go home. Both teams play better when they are at home. We know what we’re capable of going back to Cleveland, and we have been in this position before. But we’re plain and simple going to have to play better.”
The Warriors have won an NBA-record 14 straight playoff games and are threatening to become the first champion in league history to go through a playoff run undefeated. But given what happened last season when the trophy got wrenched from their grasp, they’re not resting on their laurels.
“It’s been a great run, but none of that matters unless we can finish the job with this series,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who returned to the bench after an 11-game absence to deal with back pain. “We know, trust me, we know. It was 2-0 last year, and we lost. We’re playing an unbelievably good team, competitive team, dominant team. Now we have to go back there. This is where the series changed last year, so we’re just trying to think about the next game.”
So are the Cavaliers, but it’s more difficult for them because they must come up with answers that so far have eluded them. James sounded grimly determined after Game 2.
“I still have this bunker mentality when it comes to playing ball,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it. Our fans are looking forward to it. We know that. We have to give them something to cheer for.”