Warriors seem capable of anything - except another collapse
CLEVELAND (AP) The possibilities seem endless for the Golden State Warriors when they are rolling.
A 150-point game isn’t even out of reach.
“I mean, we could have gotten at least 140 the other night if we only had about 10 to 15 turnovers,” All-Star guard Klay Thompson said.
Dominating like no team ever has in the postseason, the Warriors look capable of anything - except another NBA Finals collapse.
They take a 2-0 lead over Cleveland into Wednesday’s Game 3, just as they did last year. The Warriors actually had a higher victory margin through two games in the 2016 Finals, but they didn’t have Kevin Durant or a fully healthy Stephen Curry then.
They do now and are playing much better basketball than this time last year.
“As a team, I think so,” Thompson said. “I think we’re moving the ball great, we’re shooting the ball at a high clip and our defense has been unbelievable.”
Somehow, the Cavaliers have to change all that.
They did last year, coming home after losing the first two by a combined 48 points and beginning the turnaround with a 120-90 rout in Game 3. The opponent and the situation are the same, yet things feel different.
“That’s last year and I don’t even know the feeling anymore,” LeBron James said. “So I’m just mentally strengthening my mind and getting my mind ready and focused on what tomorrow’s going to bring, and so I look forward to it.”
The Warriors committed 20 turnovers in Game 2 but simply shook that off with an NBA Finals-record 18 3-pointers in a 132-113 romp. It was the second time in the postseason they committed at least 20 turnovers, and yet they scored at least 120 points in both games.
They are averaging nearly 119 points and winning by a record 16.9 per game in the postseason, and they’ve really picked it up lately. Golden State has scored 126 per game on nearly 52 percent shooting over the last five games.
“We played against good teams, and we came to the Finals undefeated, and here we are up 2-0, so we’re playing amazing basketball right now. The best we probably played throughout the year,” center Zaza Pachulia said.
With a loaded lineup and enough hot hands to fill an octopus, the Warriors don’t need to rely on any one player to take a lot of shots. If somebody is struggling, they can just find someone else with their precision ball movement.
The Cavaliers don’t have that luxury. They need big nights from James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love - and even then a roster of struggling role players has to pick it up.
“We just need our supporting group to be themselves as much as possible,” Irving said. “Understand that they have a unique opportunity to make us that much better, and for a majority of this season it’s been on myself, Bron and K-Love’s shoulders. And we have done a great job of getting everyone involved and making sure that everyone feels comfortable, but now we need everything and everybody.”
The Cavaliers said they won’t change their lineup or their schemes, insisting they want to play fast even though that’s exactly the way the Warriors like it. Golden State has been punishing Cleveland in transition, and the way the Warriors have blown open the first two games by scoring in bunches hasn’t just taken a physical toll.
Both Durant and Thompson said they noticed the mental effect their lightning-quick scoring bursts have on opponents.
“Teams have great nights in this league, and it’s the NBA, so that can happen a lot,” Durant said. “But when you’re the one making the run, you could definitely feel the other team looking for answers and being deflated as the game goes on.”
A year after winning 73 games to set the NBA’s regular-season record, the Warriors can make more history if they sweep the Cavs to complete the league’s first undefeated postseason.
They embraced the chase last year but said Tuesday that they’re not thinking at all about 16-0.
“Game 3 has been rough for us historically, and especially in this building,” Curry said. “So to give ourselves a chance at even coming close to thinking about that. We need to really, really just lock in and give every effort we have on tomorrow and how hard this 48 minutes is going to be to really seize control of this series.”
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