War­riors take their game to a new level

Deeper and more tal­ented than last year, they’ve put Cava­liers in a hole.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Tania Gan­guli

OAK­LAND — Look­ing only at the score dif­fer­en­tials from last year’s NBA Fi­nals com­pared to this year’s might lead one to in­cor­rectly as­sume that this year’s Golden State War­riors are a lot like last year’s War­riors and this year’s Fi­nals might look some­thing like last year’s. The War­riors won the first two games of the se­ries hand­ily against the Cleve­land Cava­liers, like they did a year ago.

But this year’s War­riors are deeper and more di­versely tal­ented than last year’s War­riors. That means to keep pace with them, the Cava­liers have to be too. But can they? “We have two games un­der our belt, so we have to get used to it now,” Cava­liers cen­ter Tris­tan Thomp­son said. “We’re go­ing home, the crowd will be be­hind our back and we have to go out there and play.”

‘He’s a big piece of our suc­cess and ... they have neu­tral­ized that in the first two games.’ — LeBron James, on team­mate Tris­tan Thomp­son

Noth­ing that’s hap­pened in the first two games dis­pelled the idea that LeBron James is the best player on the court. But he hasn’t had enough help from his team­mates to threaten the starstud­ded War­riors. The Cava­liers have been un­able to stop the War­riors, whose 132-point out­put Sun­day marked the most points scored by a team in the Fi­nals since 1987, when the Lak­ers scored 141 against the Bos­ton Celtics.

In Game 2, the War­riors got 30-point games from two starters, Kevin Du­rant and Stephen Curry, a 20-point game from an­other, Klay Thomp­son, and dou­ble-digit scor­ing from re­serves Shaun Liv­ingston and Ian Clark. Re­serve Andre Iguo­dala had five as­sists.

The Cava­liers, mean­while, haven’t got­ten nearly enough pro­duc­tion from any­one other than James, who had a triple-dou­ble Sun­day, and for­ward Kevin Love, who had 21 re­bounds in Game 1.

Point guard Kyrie Irv­ing scored 19 points Sun­day but took 23 shots and was un­able to slow Curry when matched against him.

“They’re ob­vi­ously try­ing to make a few other guys make plays,” Irv­ing said, “and when we’re com­ing off our iso­la­tions, they’re bring­ing a few more bod­ies to clog the lane. For us, just see the weak side ac­tion and be able to make the passes.”

Said James of Irv­ing: “He missed some chip­pies — ones he’s so ac­cus­tomed to mak­ing.”

Thomp­son, whose re­bound­ing has been crit­i­cal for the Cava­liers all sea­son, has been vir­tu­ally ab­sent for two games. He had only four re­bounds in Game 2, which was bet­ter than his score­less four-re­bound per­for­mance in Game 1. Curry, who is 6 feet 3, had more re­bounds in Game 2 than Thomp­son has in two games.

“They’ve been out there talk­ing a lot about try­ing to keep a body on him, a cou­ple of bod­ies on him,” James said. “He’s a big piece of our suc­cess and they know that, so they have neu­tral­ized that in the first two games.”

And JR Smith took only two shots Sun­day, miss­ing both.

The War­riors have done more than neu­tral­ize most of the Cava­liers’ starters, bom­bard­ing them with their fire­power, and they’ve also been ef­fec­tive against their bench play­ers.

Backup point guard Deron Wil­liams hasn’t scored yet in the Fi­nals. Kyle Korver, a 45% there-point shooter, didn’t score in Game 1 and has made one of six three-point shots.

The War­riors are a team that reg­u­larly dis­com­bob­u­lates op­po­nents.

“Just fol­low the game plan,” Cava­liers coach Ty­ronn Lue said when asked what he needs from his re­serves. “What­ever your job is, you’ve got to come in and do it. I al­ways talk about be­ing a star in your role. So what­ever your role may be, if you play 30 sec­onds or 30 min­utes, you’ve got to be ready to play. So when the shots are avail­able, they’ve got to take them. You’ve got to be ag­gres­sive. You’ve got to at­tack. And you can't play pas­sive against this team.”

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