OAKLAND, United States June 6- Golden State’s overwhelming 110-77 victory Sunday over Cleveland in the NBA Finals put the Warriors halfway to a repeat title and left Cavaliers superstar LeBron James searching for answers.
Draymond Green scored 28 points, NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry added 18 and Klay Thompson netted 17 to spark Golden State to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Cleveland for game three Wednesday and game four Friday.
“To hold this team to 77 points, that’s not easy to do, but we really locked in,” Green said. “The toughest part is going to Cleveland. We’ve got to go in with a higher focus than we’ve had.”
But only three teams in NBA history have overcome a 2-0 deficit to win the finals — the 1969 Boston Celtics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and the 2006 Miami Heat.
“It’s a fabulous position with everybody playing their best,” NBA scoring champion Curry said. “We’ve got to keep our focus and not forget how we got here.”
Combined with their 104-89 romp in the opener, the Warriors have produced the largest two-game combined victory margin to open an NBA Finals, six more points than the old mark of 42 by the 1950 Rochester Royals and 1961 Boston Celtics.
“I’m not surprised we won, but yeah, the margin, nobody would have guessed that coming in,” Curry said. “But every game is different. Game three is going to be totally different, and we need to play like that for sure.”
The Warriors stretched their overall win streak against Cleveland to seven games, including the last three of last year’s finals, two more this season and two more in this championship series.
– ‘They beat us pretty good’ –
James led Cleveland with 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists but also made seven turnovers. James was 9-0 in prior playoff game twos after his club lost the opener and he has never lost so many in a row to any rival.
“I’m not disappointed in our guys or frustrated,” James said. “We’ve just got to do better at all facets of the game, offensively and defensively, physically and mentally.
“We didn’t beat them at anything. Even when we had an early lead, they beat us to 50-50 balls, got extra possessions, extra tip-ins. They beat us pretty good.”
The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player is in his sixth finals in a row and seventh overall but has won only two titles.
For the first time in his career, James was kept scoreless in the first quarter of an NBA Finals game.
“We have to figure out how we can be better. We have to figure out how we can help one another,” James said. “We definitely have to figure out how to get more guys involved.”
Golden State, which set an NBA record with 73 wins this season, matched the combined season and playoff win record of 87 set by the Chicago Bulls, improving to 50-3 overall at home, including 11-1 in the playoffs.
Curry was 7-of-11 from 3-point range while Thompson was 6-of-13 from beyond the arc and Green knocked down 5-of-8 3-pointers.
– Love’s status uncertain –
The Cavaliers lost forward Kevin Love early in the third quarter to dizziness. Love had taken a hard elbow to the back of the head from Harrison Barnes in the second quarter. He was put into NBA concussion protocols and his status is day to day.
“Losing one of our top three players is always going to be a big impact,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “At halftime he showed no symptoms. When we came back out in the third quarter, I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy. He went back on the floor for a second and then we had to get him off the floor.”
Kyrie Irving cut Golden State’s lead to 52-46 to open the third quarter but a 17-7 Warriors’ run followed as Curry, Green and Thompson each hit 3-pointers and a Green layup capped the spurt.
James fired an airball midway into the frustrating period while Curry was on the bench much of the time, the 3-point record setter laughing and smiling as teammates scored.
Led by Green and Thompson, Golden State ripped off a 19-7 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth for an 89-62 edge, sealing Cleveland’s fate.
Green scored nine of his 18 first-half points in a 20-2 Warriors’ run that helped Golden State to a 52-44 half-time lead.
Before the tip-off there was a moment of silence in memory of Muhammad Ali, the iconic boxer and human rights champion who died Friday.