OAKLAND, Calif. — This is a basketball team at its best, mentally, physically, emotionally. A basketball team that may or may not be the finest in history but certainly is remarkable after winning a record 73 games in the regular season and the first two games of the NBA Finals so impressively.
Once the Golden State Warriors got it rolling Sunday night at Oracle Arena, where the chants of “Warriors . . . Warriors” poured down as the baskets poured in, they became an even heavier favorite to win a second straight championship.
The Warriors crushed the Cavaliers, 110-77, in Game 2, their seventh straight win over the Cavs dating to last year’s playoffs.
Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals have gone on to win the title 28 of 31 times.
“Our defense was the key to everything tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said after watching his team hold Cleveland to 33 points in the second half and 28-for-79 shooting overall.
“Our offense was disjointed, not very good,’’ he said. “We had a lot of careless turnovers. We’ve got to get better on offense when we go to Cleveland for sure.”
Disjointed or not, the Warriors made 54.5 percent of their shots and 45.5 percent of their three-pointers. Draymond Green, a forward, center, guard — take your pick — led the Warriors with 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Stephen Curry had 18 points and Klay Thompson 17, shooting 13-for-24 between them. The two totaled 20 points and 8-for-27 shooting in Game 1.
For Cleveland, LeBron James had 19 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and seven turnovers. “They were tougher than us and more aggressive,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
Kerr, as conservative as a coach is supposed to be, pointed out that this was only one game and that the next two are in Cleveland, all true. But the Warriors are quicker than the Cavs. “I was surprised how they won,” Lue said.
No one who saw the Warriors come back from 3-1 down in the Western Conference finals against the Thunder was surprised. The Warriors have shown consistency and, when needed, resiliency — and the ability to sink one long shot after another.
“We were one step behind,” James said. “When you’re one step behind these guys, they make you pay.”
The Warriors don’t play the physical style that punishes people. Instead, as NBA great and Warriors consultant Jerry West said, they do it with finesse. “We have to make the other team miss, grab the rebounds and turn it into our baskets,” Curry said. “We have to play fast and smart.”
Green usually is the emotional leader. This time he was the points leader, shooting 11-for-20, including 5-for-8 on threes.
“The only one I didn’t love,” Kerr said of Green’s shots, “was the one off the dribble from the top of the key that he made. The other ones were great. The way they were playing defense against our guards [Curry and Thompson], Draymond’s going to be open all day.”
Kerr said he has no restrictions on shooting. If a man is open, fire away.
“We’re just playing hard,” he said. “We’re competing. Our guys are making good decisions, talking [on defense], taking away the things they like to do. You have to be able to help on LeBron and get back out to the shooters. It’s a very difficult job, and our guys did a good job of that. But there’s a long way to go, so we’re not celebrating.”
Love dizzy. The Cavs’ Kevin Love said he felt dizziness after being hit in the head by Harrison Barnes’ elbow in the first half. He has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol.