The Golden State Warriors ran the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the gym and evened the season series at one game apiece in their last regular season meeting.
The Golden State Warriors cruised to a big victory on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The two teams split the series, with the Cleveland Cavaliers defeating the Dubs on a Kyrie Irving game winner. This game was not nearly as intense.
This game was close…and then the referee threw the open tip. The Warriors raced off to a 7-0 lead and they didn’t look back. Golden State outscored Cleveland 37-22 in the first quarter as Steph Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 15 points.
The Warriors continued their offensive assault by scoring 41 in the second quarter. They turned defense into quick offense and completely ran the Cavs out of the gym in transition. Golden State looked up court every single time they got a stop and made Cleveland pay for getting back slowly.
For a game between two teams that aren’t rivals, LeBron james seems to always find himself in the middle of some kind of controversy. On a fast break, Draymond Green tried to poke the ball away and fouled James. The contact was there, but James decided to sell it and threw himself on the ground as if he got tackled by Khalil Mack.
Green and Richard Jefferson got in each other’s face as James just laid on the floor. The referees took a look at it and assessed the Warriors’ star a Flagrant 1. He and Jefferson also received offsetting technical fouls.
Much of the talk heading into this one was Steph Curry’s recent struggles against Cleveland. In Game 7, he had 17 points and on Christmas he had just 15 points. He took himself out of games, allowing Cleveland’s physicality to bother him.
He silenced those people, for now. He was aggressive early on. He was 5/11 wit 14 points in the first half. None of his buckets were more spectacular than his shot at the end of the 2nd quarter. He was leading the break and instead of passing it early for the easy two, he made a poor pass to Green in the corner. The forward saved it and found Curry 30 feet away from the basket who launched and splashed it at the buzzer.
The Warriors’ stars stepped up in this one. Curry finished with 20 points and 11 assists. Durant had 21 points on 56 percent shooting. Thompson added 26 of his own points.
Green did a little bit of everything in this one. He had a triple-double 11 points, 11 assists, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. He was spectacular on both ends of the floor. He got himself to the line a few times when the Warriors were struggling to muster offense in the third quarter.
The Warriors forced James and Irving into having inefficient nights from the field. The reigning Finals MVP had 20 points on 33 percent shooting and his point guard scored just 17 points on 31 percent shooting from the field. Kevin Love, who sat the second half with injury, scored just 3 points in 16 first half minutes.
Ultimately, the result of this game doesn’t matter, but it’s nice to see the Warriors gain some momentum against Cleveland. These two teams have a lot to look at and evaluate as they look to face off again in June.
The latest chapter of this rivalry–and yes, it’s a rivalry–has been written. Now, they’ll look forward to what would be their third straight NBA Finals series. Golden State still has a lot of work to do and will try to add more to their game on Wednesday as they visit Victor Oladipo and the Oklahoma City Thunder.