At this stage of the season there’s nothing worse than a one-sided NBA Finals and after Game 1’s monumental blunder from J.R. Smith, Game 2 went the way we all expected it to. It was a blowout and nothing less than a pitch-perfect display of everything basketball enthusiasts have come to love from the league’s most hated team. Again, LeBron James did all he could, emptying the tank and playing 43 minutes. But against this team, only a miracle can save them now. I mean, we all know this Warriors team is great, but my word, the talent displayed by their two brightest stars last night was simply breathtaking.
Curry the flamethrower
First up was Stephen Curry, a two-time MVP and superstar who many said didn’t ‘look like himself’ a week ago – well, he’s just set a new Finals record; in the kind of incredible performance for which we have come to expect in recent years. A ridiculous, often insane display of individual shooting ability and a love for a system. A system born from spreading the floor, passing the ball and optimising the best looks possible for a deep and talented roster of deadly three-point sharpshooters.
Steph Curry set NBA Finals records for both 3-pointers made and attempted, as he went 9 for 17 behind the arc. Overall, he scored 33 points on 26 shooting possessions and had seven assists (six of them leading to shots at the rim). #RingerNBA (via @presidual) pic.twitter.com/NNS9r2WtVf
— The Ringer (@ringer) June 4, 2018
Curry hit 9 three-pointers on his way to surpassing the great Ray Allen, including one ridiculous prayer – except it’s not a prayer because this is Curry – on his way to a masterful 33 point performance. And as if that wasn’t enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Durant finally locked-in and that’s the real bad news here, as Kevin Love rather aptly pointed out.
“A lot of people are going to talk about Steph’s game and Klay [Thompson] having 20 as well, but I thought K.D. was the guy that really had it going tonight for them and was the difference maker,”
Durant the calculated
When Kevin Durant took his talents from Oklahoma to Golden State two summers ago, many hated him for it. They labelled him as “weak” and openly insulted him, calling him a “coward”. Now, two years later and with one Finals win under his belt, it was Durant who yet again turned the screw by benching his iso-heavy approach, which has dogged his game so heavily over the course of these playoffs. And this is perhaps the Warriors’ greatest luxury of all, no other organisation in the league has this. Durant can either live by the Warriors outstanding system or just do the Alpha Dog thing. That’s not to say he’s Michael Jordan, but with the game on the line, you have to admit it’s pretty difficult to stop a 7ft forward with a Dirk Nowitzki-esque fadeaway. Last night, it was the former of those two luxuries, as the Warriors other former MVP turned his game into a highly efficient and richly rewarding performance for us to behold. Durant finished the night with 26 points, on an .825% true shooting percentage. He also grabbed nine rebounds and totalled seven assists. His 10 made field goals came off just 14 shots and whilst partnered alongside Curry, the two contributed for over 55% of Golden State’s 28 assists. That’s winning basketball.
With Game 3 set to take place on Thursday morning UK time, it seems only inevitable that this series will be over sooner rather than later. Leading to this; what we are witnessing is the most one-sided NBA Finals series since 2001-02, when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were at the height of their superpowers. In that series vs New Jersey, the Los Angeles Lakers won 3 out of the 4 games convincingly, and I see no reason as to why the Warriors can’t end this series in similar style.
And yes – as I’m sure many of you are screaming – Cleveland did in fact get swept in the 2007 Finals vs San Antonio, but we should remember that the final two games of that series, which also took place in Cleveland, came down to the final seconds.
Games 3 and 4 in this Finals, surely won’t be as competitive as that series and we may well just now be watching a formality; a slow procession to coronating the Warriors as the eventual 2018 NBA Champions.
Featured photo via NBAE/Getty Images