OAKLAND, Calif. — The Warriors overwhelmed the Cavaliers, 110-77, on Sunday night and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals in their quest for a second straight championship.
Draymond Green, the Warriors’ emotional leader, also was their scoring leader in this game, scoring 28 points and making 5 of 8 three-pointers.
The Warriors, who won a record 73 games during the regular season, are known for scoring baskets in bursts. But what so often sets up the offense is their defense, turning opponents’ misses into quick baskets of their own.
That basically was what happened in the first half. Cleveland shot only 16-for-45 (36 percent), falling behind a Warriors team that was 22-for-46 (48 percent) and a so-so 7-for-20 on three-pointers.
“Better defense,” coach Steve Kerr said of the way his team crushed the Cavs. “Our offense has been disjointed.”
But not so much that the Warriors couldn’t go up by more than 30 points in the fourth quarter and raise their home record to 50-3.
“When we’re able to get stops, that gets us going,” said league MVP Stephen Curry, who had 18 points in only 24:43.
For the last few months, the Warriors have promoted, and copyrighted, the phrase “Strength in Numbers,” which is now seen on thousands of T-shirts in the Bay Area. There’s truth in the slogan.
Backups Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have stepped in when needed, such as Game 1, when Livingston had 20 points and Iguodala defended LeBron James, which he also did in Game 2.
James had only 19 points Sunday night, shooting 7-for-17, and his streak of wins after losing a Game 1 was halted at nine. He also didn’t make a shot in the first quarter (0-for-5). He was 5-for-7 in the second quarter, however, and had 14 points at the break.
The Warriors are a team that lives on three-pointers, and with Green and Curry connecting from beyond the arc they built a 52-37 lead with 2:08 left in the half. It was trimmed to eight at the break.
Curry was defended well in the first game, when he was held to 11 points. He had more space in this one.
“I just need to play better to help my team,” he said before tipoff. “I don’t know what that means statistically, but that’s when we’re at our complete best as a team. I don’t think I need to press the score but to be more decisive with the ball. A couple times the last game, I was indecisive, and that got me in trouble.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue wanted his team to play faster — in effect, play Warriors basketball — and that’s what Cleveland did at times in a game that alternated between brilliant and uncontrolled.
Now and then, that’s also what the Warriors did, when they weren’t throwing the ball out of bounds or having it stolen by James. In the first quarter the Warriors had five turnovers, Cleveland none. You waited for another outburst by Kerr, who in Game 1 shattered his whiteboard and cut a finger after some sloppy play.
But a coach’s minor hurt doesn’t compare to a player’s injury.
Halfway through the second quarter, one of the Cavs’ Big Three, Kevin Love, crumpled when hit in the back of the head by Harrison Barnes’ elbow on a rebound attempt. Love recovered quickly enough and threw in a long jumper. But early in the third quarter, Love was wobbly and came off the floor to go through the concussion protocol.