PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Playoff Central begins at 3:30pm on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming right here.
OAKLAND -- One game into these NBA Finals, and it is statement time for the Warriors and the Cavaliers.
When the teams meet Sunday afternoon (5:05 tipoff) at Oracle Arena for Game 2, the Warriors will be trying to prove they’re last two games against Cleveland -- a 35-point rout last Jan. 16 and a 21-point win in Game 1 on Thursday -- are not a fluke.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, want to keep alive LeBron James’ streak in which his teams have won at least one road game in 30 consecutive postseason series. Failure would send them back to Cleveland in a 0-2 hole.
Not that such a deficit would sink the Cavaliers. They were down 0-2 last June before coming back to beat the Warriors to win the championship.
Warriors by 9
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James: The two faced off throughout Game 1 and Durant fairly crushed James in leading the Warriors to a 113-91 victory. Prideful and still a remarkable presence, James will be out for vengeance. It appeared Durant is better at defending James, than James is at guarding Durant. Does “the king” still have the goods to match Durant, or will he need help?
Warriors: No injuries reported.
Cavaliers: C Edy Tavares (R hand fracture) is listed as out.
ROAD TO THE FINALS:
Warriors: Posted a 67-15 record in the regular season to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Swept Portland in four games in the first round, swept Utah in four in the Western Conference semifinals and swept San Antonio in four in the conference finals.
Cavs: Were 51-31 in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Swept Indiana in four games in the first round, swept Toronto in four in the conference semifinals, defeated Boston in five games in the conference finals.
The teams split two games in the regular season, the Cavs with a 109-108 victory on Christmas Day in Cleveland, the Warriors a 126-91 win on Jan. 16 in Oakland. The Warriors are 12-8 against the Cavs over the past three seasons, including 8-6 in the postseason.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Steph vs. Kyrie: Curry won Round 1, drilling the Cavs with 3-pointers and also playing stellar defense. Irving says he and his teammates want to do a better job of playing with pace. They want to dictate. The Warriors also want to run, so the team that does it best will be in position to win. The point guards can help determine that.
Cavs on D: The Cavaliers were disappointed with their transition defense and vow to improve it, to do a better job of getting to the ball while also covering wings and trailers. That’s the problem the Warriors present to most teams, though, and the best way to prevent it is to beat their defense. It’s very hard to do.
Klay’s shot: Thompson will start draining jumpers at some point, right? With the Cavs talking defensive adjustments, the belief is they will pay more attention to Curry and Durant. If so, that should open up a few more opportunities for Thompson. He’s still very willing to take his chances.