The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are currently playing their fourth consecutive NBA finals against each other. Game one featured an efficient scoring performance from Lebron James, an offensive burst from two-time MVP Stephen Curry, and a silent fourth quarter from the game changing Warriors’ FA pickup, Kevin Durant. Game one was a back and forth battle, with three pivotal lead changes occuring in the climax of the fourth quarter. First, Lebron James with a massive and-one to put the Cavs up two. A charge call on KD would be overturned to a blocking foul on Lebron, giving the Dubs two free throws to tie the game. Lebron would come right back with a big drive to the hoop for an easy layup to regain Cleveland their advantage. Stephen Curry would bring the heat right back with a strong drive of his own, getting a three point play of his own to match Lebron and put the Warriors up one with 23.5 seconds left, enough for one full possession for the Cavs to strike back. The Cavs seemed to fumble their opportunity to score with a poorly coordinated possession, but in a dramatic turn of events, were bailed out by a defensive foul call from the refs, giving Cleveland, who was in the bonus, two free throws to ice the game with under five seconds remaining. Point guard George Hill would sink the first to tie the game at 107, and would have one more to seal a game one on the road for the Cavaliers a feat they’ve yet to accomplish the previous three series against Golden State. George Hill would miss the free throw, and the Cleveland guard J.R. Smith would pull down a rebound, within five feet from the basket. Inexplicably, J.R. Smith would turn and dribble away from the basket out to the three point line before passing back to Hill, who would get blocked on a feeble shot attempt to win the game in the dying seconds of regulation. J.R. Smith believed that the initial free throw Hill made gave the Cavs the lead rather than tie the score, and did not check the scoreboard before the final free throw.
Whether or not the Cavaliers could have gotten and made a better shot if Smith had a better understanding of the score and situation at that moment, we’ll never know. What we do know was that Klay Thompson erupted in the overtime period that followed, netting the Warriors a game one victory, 124-114. In what could only be described as one of the stupidest moments by a professional athlete across any sport in recent history, the Cavaliers flubbed an opportunity to win an important game one in the NBA finals, in a matchup which they are universally considered the underdog. Heading into Sunday night’s game two, it would be crucial they forgot all about the disaster they were a part of in the series opener, and they’d lock in to try and steal home court from the reigning champions.
The Warriors would replace Kevon Looney with Javale McGee in game two, who would kick off the game with back to back dunks. The offensive theme to begin the game would be the same as usual: The Warriors finding seams in the Cavs defense, scoring at will with star players, making their first seven field goals, while Cleveland would grind scores through Lebron James, mainly. J.R. Smith and George Hill would both contribute five points in the first quarter, with the former seeming to have shaken off his game one woes. Durant would pick up two early fouls, taking him to the bench for the final three minutes of the first. The Cavs would shoot eight free throws in the first quarter in comparison to the Warriors’ zero, and the first quarter would finish 32-28 in favor of Golden State.
Kevin Durant would continue his hot shooting to begin the second quarter, making his first five field goals of the game. Shaun Livingston would bring a spark off the bench getting back to back buckets, followed by a Curry triple to give the Warriors a double digit lead. Javale McGee would re-enter after a rest to make a nice post hook and get his third dunk of the game. McGee ended up finishing the game 6-6 from the field. Steph Curry would drop two more long range threes in the final minutes of the second, extending the lead to 13 at halftime. Already trailing at half, the Cavaliers were looking extremely vulnerable to a classic third quarter explosion by the Warriors, which would put them right out of the game, down 2-0 going back to the land.
The Cavaliers were not ready to roll over, however. Cleveland came out the gate knocking down three triples in the first four minutes of the quarter. The Warriors found more offense through Kevin Durant and surprisingly, Javale McGee, who would make his first six field goals of the game. After closing the gap to eight, the Cavaliers gave up a live ball turnover to Klay Thompson, who would knock down a three, pulling up off the dribble one on one in transition. What seemed to be the spark of a run from the Dubs would be a whimper, as Lebron would follow right back up for his own three off an isolation, and Tristan Thompson would run the floor the following possession for a dunk, closing the lead to six. Later in the third quarter, off of a missed free throw, Kevin Love would send a full court pass to Lebron James who would be surrounded by three Warriors players, given no space to land and tripped over. Furious at the no-call, the usually cool Ty Lue would be T’d up, resulting in a free throw for Curry. Kevin Love would end up making a trio of three pointers in the third quarter. Ultimately, the Cavaliers would cut the lead to six in the third, but be held off, and would slip up in the final minutes with missed free throws, and ultimately enter the fourth quarter down ten points.
If the Warriors failed to make their classic third quarter run in game two, they made up for it with an incredible run in the fourth. Golden State would blow the game wide open, extending the lead to 20, powered by five three pointers from Stephen Curry, featuring a ridiculous rainbow shot falling away from 30 feet out over the 6’10” Kevin Love, and a four point play over the same defender the following possession. Cleveland would clear out their starting lineup with four minutes left in the game, even bringing out Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman, the former who would also get torched by Curry one more time before the two time MVP would finally be subbed out.
The final score of game 2 was 103-122. Lebron James followed up his 50 point game with 29 points and 13 assists, which simply wasn’t enough to get Cleveland over the hump. Steph Curry ended the game with a record nine three pointers, and Kevin Durant scored an efficient 26 points, shooting 10-14 from the field. As a team has never come back from down 0-3 in the NBA playoffs ever, it is fair to say the Cavaliers must win game three at home if they want to keep their championship aspirations alive. Game three of the 2018 NBA finals will be played at the Quicken Loans arena on Wednesday.