Halfway to eternal punchline status after losing two NBA Finals games by a combined 48 points, the Cleveland Cavaliers must face another reality.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson still haven’t had great games.
Golden State’s All-Star backcourt has basically played a supporting role, with Curry averaging 14.5 points and Thompson only 13 points in the Finals. They’re shooting 41% together.
Shhh. Nobody tell poor Cleveland.
This is all fine with Curry, the NBA’s two-time MVP. The personal stats aren’t there but the Warriors will cough up another championship only if there’s a near-historic collapse. Teams that took a 2-0 edge won 28 of 31 NBA Finals that started out that way. Game 3 is Wednesday in Cleveland.
“Everybody falls in love obviously with how me and Klay shoot the ball and that’s a big part of what we do,” Curry said after Game 2. Then he mentioned Andre Iguodala’s defense on LeBron James and solid reserve play so far from Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston.
“It’s the little stuff that you don’t see on the stat sheet that has gotten us to this position,” Curry added.
It also helps that versatile big man Draymond Green had 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Golden State’s 110-77 Game 2 victory.
Warriors fans obviously aren’t worried. Confidence isn’t lacking for Curry and Thompson. Before Game 2, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr promised they could keep firing away.
“Those guys are allowed to take any shots they want. That’s the rule,” Kerr said. “Steph and Klay are, nobody else is. The minute I start complaining about bad shots, all I have to do is: Oh yeah, in Oklahoma City, Game 6, Klay took five bad shots that helped us win.”
In other ways, Kerr is playing the role of above-the-fray sage. He won five championships as a role player with Chicago and San Antonio, adding a championship ring in his debut season as Golden State’s head coach.
He was “definitely surprised” by the margin of victory Sunday but was quick to add how the Warriors got pummeled in back-to-back games at Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.
Kerr then relayed a brief story about former Boston guard Danny Ainge. It apparently came after a long-ago easy playoff victory for the Celtics early in a series.
“Danny said ‘It’s not the Tour de France. We don’t start out with, like, a 2½-minute lead the next leg.’
“It’s 2-0 [now]. Everything changes when we go to Cleveland. We know that. We have unbelievable respect for this team, and we’ve got to go on the road and try to do it again.”
The Cavaliers would love to have the Warriors’ problems.
Kyrie Irving is shooting a woeful 33.3% while James sits at 42%, a full 10 percentage points below his regular-season accuracy.
“Obviously not much is working. Especially offensively,” James said after making seven of 17 shots in Game 2.
On top of everything, Kevin Love is going through the NBA concussion protocol after leaving Game 2 in the third quarter. He complained of dizziness after getting elbowed in the head accidentally in the second quarter by Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. His availability for Game 3 is unknown.
Cleveland has lost seven consecutive games to Golden State, including playoffs. The Cavaliers were hammered at home by the Warriors, 132-98, in January.
There aren’t many answers for Cleveland right now. Only a growing list of questions after two one-sided losses.
Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson probably summarized it best.
“Being down by 30,” he said, “will not win any games.”