And just like that, for the 3rd consecutive season, the Golden State Warriors have raced out to a 2-0 series lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers. And just like the previous two seasons, this series feels like it is already over. Looking back, in 2016, with a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Warriors lost momentum when emotional leader Draymond Green was suspended for a pivotal game 4. As you all know, Cleveland made an improbable comeback and the legend of LeBron James grew even larger. 2017 was not as exciting and the warriors dispatched King James and the Cavs in 5 ho-hum games to help Kevin Durant earn his first NBA title and second for Golden State in 3 years. Now in 2018, the talent-gap between the two teams is even larger after the primary stars are considered. The end result is a very close game one and then a lopsided game two.
Here’s how it went down on Sunday in the Bay Area. The Warriors started the contest with a slight lineup change, starting JaVale McGee over young post player Kevon Looney. The strategy appeared to pay early dividends as McGee played above his usual level and contributing defensively AND offensively. McGee contributed 12 points in 18 minutes, but his presence was obvious in the paint as he was active in challenging Cavalier shots and attempts to get near the rim. Despite a rather pedestrian effort from Green, Golden State played team ball and relied on precision shooting by Durant to lift them to an early lead. Steph Curry and Co. ended the first quarter with a slim 4 point lead which they were able to stretch to 13 by halftime. Surprisingly, the Cavs were game after the intermission and actually outscored the Warriors 34-31 in the 3rd quarter. Still trailing by 10 points heading into the forth, Cleveland’s momentum was as they were outscored by 9 in the fourth quarter and concluded a dismal performance with a 19 point loss on the road, 122-103.
In my game one recap, I had hoped that Cleveland would rally in game two and even the series by stealing a road win. But it was not meant to be and the teams head to the Cavs home turf with a lot of doubt about whether there will a return to California for game 5. We will all find out Wednesday night about how much the Cavaliers have left to offer this lopsided series. Until next time…are you ready for some football (too)?