Game 2: What Went Wrong


June 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) moves the ball against the defense of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8), forward LeBron James (23) and center Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half in game one of the NBA Finals. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After dazzling the crowd and the media for three straight rounds, Stephen Curry finally displayed one of the ugliest performances by a star in NBA Finals history.

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He shot two for 15 beyond the arc and simply couldn’t ignite the Warriors offense whatsoever. The Warriors would go on to lose Game 2 by two points in arguably their worst postseason outing yet. While the defense managed to hold the Cavaliers to only 32 percent shooting from the field, they struggled too much offensively to dictate their own pace. Ultimately, it was Lebron James and the Cavs who escaped overtime with the last laugh this time around.

It starts with Curry. As the reigning MVP, there’s no way Curry can allow himself to remain flustered any longer. Matthew Dellavedova played excellent defense on Curry. He was in his airspace all night, causing Curry miss badly and feel the need to shoot himself out of a slump. Most importantly, Dellavedova was in Curry’s head. He forced him to be uncomfortable, and Curry made poor decisions down the stretch as a result. If the Warriors want to win, Curry cannot have another game where he shoots 21.7 percent from the field and commits six turnovers.

Curry does need his shots to fall, but he also needs to be more aggressive and be more decisive with the ball in his hands. This means creating contact, driving to the rim, and finding open teammates out of traps. He missed some easy looks, but he also forced the issue, especially in overtime, when he settled for a quick three early on, air-balled a potential go-ahead bucket, and threw away the ball on a terrible bounce pass to Klay Thompson. During the Cavs’ final possession of the game, Draymond Green emphatically blocked Lebron’s layup attempt, causing Andre Iguodala to save the ball out of bounds, but Curry simply let the ball slip between his fingers, giving the ball and clock back to Cleveland. Curry’s body language seemed off, as he didn’t even attempt to corral the loose ball. If Curry doesn’t find an answer for Cleveland’s rugged defense anytime soon, there’s no chance that the Warriors can even compete offensively.

To add to Curry’s forgettable night, the entire team looked off as well. Klay Thompson managed to pick up the slack offensively, dropping 34 points on 50 percent shooting, but got most of his looks early on and like his fellow Splash Brother, started to hoist up heat checks and ill-advised shots. In addition, no other Warriors stepped up. Marreese Speights was ineffective with his mid-range jumpers and missed a costly open dunk in transition that would have given the offensively-desperate Warriors  two needed points. Andrew Bogut was badly outplayed by Timofey Mozgov. Bogut played well in the first quarter, pulling down boards and commanding the paint, but as the game went on, he was unable to out-rebound Mozgov or Tristan Thompson. Shaun Livingston, Harrison Barnes, and Iguodala didn’t offer much  offensively either. Barnes couldn’t hit his corner threes (or any threes at all). Iguodala continued his stellar defense on LeBron, but only attempted five field goals all night. Livingston didn’t provide much of anything in 14 minutes of playing time. He scored three points to go with only one rebound and assist.

The Cavaliers have dictated the pace in Games 1 and 2. The Warriors haven’t been able to impose their will with transition offense because the Cavs are using so many ISO sets. This limits the opportunities for the turnovers that fuel the Warriors’ fast breaks. The Warriors committed an absurd 18 turnovers with only 16 assists in Game 2. That simply won’t cut it for the rest of the series. Cleveland’s defense has been exceptional, limiting the Warriors’ easy looks, but the Warriors have been stagnant in their offense, refusing to move around for great looks and instead, they’ve settled for poor shots.

If the Warriors want to win Game 3 and the series, they’ll need to have answers for several obvious issues. Can they finally dictate the pace of the game? Will the role players step up offensively? Will Curry be able to regain his composure and maintain control of the game? Can the Warriors hold Lebron to poor shooting averages while negating his teammates? A Lebron-led team was never going to be easy to defeat, no matter what “analysts” were claiming after Game 1. In order to win three more games, the Warriors can’t repeat their woes from Games 1 and 2. Steve Kerr and his staff need to have adjustments in Game 3 to revive the Warriors’ revered offense.

Game 3 is a prime opportunity to steal a game at Cleveland while establishing the series lead.