Stephen Curry hit an NBA Finals-record nine 3-pointers, and J.R. Smith was brutally trolled as the Warriors took game two of the NBA Finals.
Curry scored 33 points, Kevin Durant posted 26 points, and Klay Thompson added 20 on a bum ankle as the Golden State Warriors soundly defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103 again.
Steve Kerr put JaVale McGee in his starting lineup, and it worked perfectly
Headlines were made before the game even started, with the Warriors officially ruling out Andre Iguodala, who continues to recover from a bone bruise, and announcing that Thompson and Patrick McCaw would play. Thompson suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 1.
While that was expected, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr changing his starting lineup was not. Kerr removed young big man Kevon Looney from the starting lineup in favor of JaVale McGee. Looney scored eight points on four-for-five shooting in Game 1 but was a team-worst minus-10. The Cavaliers also dominated the boards — 53-38 — and 19 of those came on the offensive end. McGee was a plus-seven in just six minutes in Game 1.
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It paid immediate dividends: McGee put home wide-open dunks on Golden State’s first two possessions. Overall the Warriors scored five straight buckets in the paint on either layups or dunks to open the game before Klay Thompson splashed a three and Draymond Green slammed one home on the break as the Warriors jumped out to a 15-7 lead behind seven-for-seven shooting, forcing a Cleveland timeout.
The Warriors operated at a high level on the offensive end in the first quarter, shooting 15 for 23 (65.2 percent) from the field. But the Cavaliers hung tough after the hosts’ hot start and trailed just 32-28 after the first period.
The Warriors surged ahead in the second quarter
The Cavaliers continued to hang tough in the early part of the second, and they whittled the lead down to four — 40-36 — after a traditional three-point play from Kevin Love.
But then the Warriors went on a quick run that has made them the league’s most dangerous team for the past several years. A 7-0 spurt, capped by an off-the-dribble three from Curry, gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead of the night, 47-36.
Curry hit two more deep threes in the half, and the Cavaliers struggled to keep pace with one of the game’s all-time great shooters. Led by Curry’s 16 points, the Warriors led 59-46. Golden State shot 59.5 percent from the field and a sterling 82.6 from inside the arc.
The Cleveland offense got going in the third quarter, but Golden State answered
The Cavaliers were just three for 10 from deep in the first half, but they made five of their first seven out of the break.
The visitors looked to be in good position to go into the quarter down within single digits after a three from Love brought it to 76-71, Warriors. But the hosts turned on the jets again over the last few minutes and led 90-80 after three quarters, thanks to a corner three from David West. It was a big shot for the Warriors to keep their distance and a surprising one, too: Up to that point, West had played over 3,100 minutes of playoff basketball and had made just two triples.
Still, it was a solid 12 minutes for the visitors. The Warriors have thrived in third quarters throughout the playoffs and have owned the league’s best third-quarter point differential four seasons in a row. That the Cavaliers made up ground was a good sign; that they remained down double digits despite the initial hot start proved costly.
J.R. Smith gets standing ovation, ‘MVP’ chants from Warriors fans during Game 2
After committing one of the most costly errors in sports history in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith got a standing ovation from Golden State Warriors fans at Oracle Arena ahead of Game 2.
Later, about halfway through the first quarter, Smith stepped to the free throw line and got “MVP” chants from the Golden State crowd. Watch both moments in the video at the top of the page.
J.R. didn’t mind the chants
“I’m always a person who fans like to talk to or heckle, whatever, I like it,” Smith said after the game.
JR appreciated the MVP chants
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 4, 2018
Stephen Curry broke the NBA Finals record for made threes in a single game (nine) as the Warriors dominated the fourth quarter
The Cavaliers maintained striking distance early in the fourth, but Curry’s seventh and eighth threes proved to be a pretty perfect summary of the night as a whole.
Here’s the seventh, an incredible desperation heave near the end of the shot clock:
Here’s the eighth, which he converted through contact for a four-point play.
And here’s the record-breaking ninth:
#⃣9⃣ on the evening!
— NBA (@NBA) June 4, 2018
The Cavaliers — who looked both exhausted and disheartened — removed their regulars with about four minutes remaining and shortly thereafter, another dominant performance from the defending champions was in the books.
If the Cavaliers want to have a chance in this series, they’ll need to win at home — a place they have haven’t lost since the first game of the postseason — in Game 3. The game tips off on Thursday.