It’s sort of hard to crystallize a Warriors attack that could only be described as “relentless”—in both games so far, the Cavs have survived for a half, then understandably given way under a barrage that just doesn’t let up, and comes from so many different angles. (Seriously, how many times did a Cav heroically fight their way over a screen, only to see that the screener was one of two of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history and was now wide open at the arc? What the hell are you supposed to do against an offense like that?)
So maybe we start with just one highlight? You know which one. In the third quarter, with Golden State starting to pull away, Steph Curry put LeBron James in, if not a blender, at least a mixing bowl:
“That’s what everyone wants to see, some of the best players in the world go against each other,” Klay Thompson said. “Steph made a great move, got by him and finished. That’s what he does.”
It was excellent defense on James’s part. There aren’t many defenders who can stick with Curry for eight seconds without help. And James probably deserved better than he got. Once you see Curry clutch the ball with both hands and jump back beyond the three-point line—the video below helpfully freezes it—you won’t be able to unsee it. So yeah, a double dribble, though not the sort that usually gets called, but it’s hard to fault James for selling out and leaving his feet, which gave Curry the space he needed to drive past.
There’s zero point in harping on the no-call—the Warriors thoroughly outplayed every non-LeBron Cav, and one play was not going to swing this game. And also: Just enjoy a great highlight, you dummies!
Curry credited the sequence and his more focused play in the second half to a halftime speech from Steve Kerr, who was back on the bench for the first time since Game 2 of the first round six weeks ago. “Coach got on me at halftime about my body language,” Curry said, “and just trying to play with passion and play with joy.”
Curry and LeBron were both in rare form last night. According to Elias, this was just the second playoff game in NBA history where two players recorded triple-doubles. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Frazier did it against each other in 1970.)
But Curry thought there was room for improvement. To go along with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists, he also turned the ball over eight times. He says that can’t be repeated.
“There’s an eight on the stat sheet that I need to correct when we go to Cleveland, because the points that I gave up off turnovers in their building will electrify the crowd and their team.”
I don’t know that it’s necessarily a “need.” The Warriors, unlike the Cavs, can afford mistakes. Game 1 showed that they can do it even with off-nights from Green and Thompson. Game 2 was a case study in how unbeatable they are when everyone’s hitting. And if not unbeatable, then unbeaten, which is functionally the same thing—with the win, their 14th straight in this postseason, the Warriors set the record for most consecutive playoff wins—and the two teams they passed (including the 2016 and ‘17 Cavs) needed two postseasons to do it. Curry has help, no doubt—more help than anyone since Miami-era LeBron—but the two-time MVP remains a force all on his own.