Programming note: "Warriors NBA Finals Central" airs Tuesday night at 5 p.m., and immediately after Game 3 on CSN Bay Area. Both shows will be streaming live right here.
OAKLAND – With his teammates spinning a web of offensive despair Sunday night, Klay Thompson tried to rescue the Warriors. His effort was commendable, his production enough to keep them from collapsing under the weight of their futility.
The Warriors almost never win when only one among them becomes familiar with the bottom of the net, though, and this was no exception.
They stunk it up enough in Game 2 of the NBA Finals that they couldn’t vanquish a Cavaliers team that shot an abysmal 32.6 percent from the field. That’s so hard to do that no team had won a Finals game with such a lowly percentage since the shot clock was instituted in 1955.
The Warriors rallied to push the game into overtime but eventually lost, 95-93, to an adamant Cavaliers squad led by LeBron James, with Matthew Dellavedova, JR Smith and Timofey Mozgov playing crucial roles.
The Warriors were outplayed, outfought and, in a rare development, outcoached.
“Look, this is The Finals,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I mean it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. We had a tough night. So you have to move on. You’ve got to learn from it and get better.
“And that’s what we’re going to do.”
They have to start with fixing the offense. Shooting guard Klay Thompson (34 points, 14-of-28 shooting) was the lone starter to do his part to grease an aspect that wheezed and coughed and stalled throughout the evening at Oracle Arena.
That the Warriors shot 39.8 percent (33 of 83) was ugly enough, but the 22.9-percent shooting (8-of-35) from 3-point range was downright hideous.
Stephen Curry, the MVP, was locked down. Harrison Barnes was, for the vast majority of the game, on another planet. Draymond Green kept hitting the snooze button until waking up after halftime.
Curry is going to find his game. The MVP is too good not to. He’s not going to let Matthew Dellavedova’s rugged, crowding defense keep him down.
“I doubt this will happen again, with the adjustments I’ll make once I look at the film,” Curry vowed.
Barnes is what an old coach I knew referred to as a “rainbow guy,” meaning beautiful when visible but rarely seen. Still, he has to provide something besides an earnest effort on defense.
The key to the Warriors finding their showcase game is Green. And he’s playing his worst offensive ball of the season. In the 12 games since Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Memphis, he’s shooting 39.1 percent (54-of-138). More important, he’s shooting 17.6 (9-of-51) percent from deep in that stretch.
And he knows it’s not there. As much as he’d like to pull Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson away from the basket, Draymond took only one trey in 43 minutes in Game 2.
Only once all season prior to Sunday had Green been so shy from 3-point distance.
That’s not to suggest Green is to blame for the Game 2 loss. That is to indicate that Green’s 3-point shot, when respected, opens the floor for the Warriors and allows their offense to flow in ways that befuddle opponents.
“We’ll look at the tape,” Kerr said. “We’ve got to put our guys in better position to get good looks. I thought sometimes, you get open shots that aren’t rhythm shots, so you’re not flowing, you’re not playing well and you haven’t created anything offensively. Then all of a sudden, you do get an open look, but you’re not in the flow, in the groove. There was some of that (Sunday night).
“So we’ve got to do a better job, and, like I said, we’ll watch the tape and figure it out.”
Thompson was scalding in the early going, scoring nine points in the first five minutes. His shot appears to have returned.
The 15-4 run to finish regulation and force OT was impressive, only partly mitigating the fact that they opened the quarter scoring 13 points to Cleveland’s 21.
That 14-point third quarter was an eyesore only somewhat mitigated by that fact that Cleveland could manage only 15 points on 19-percent shooting.
Curry’s 5-of-23 shooting performance was his worst of a season in which the next game will be the team’s 100th. In setting a record for most 3-pointers attempted in a Finals game (15), Curry missed 13. His horrid night was completed by six turnovers.
That Warriors reserves being outscored 21-17 doesn’t look so bad until you consider they are supposed to have the superior bench.
Even as the Warriors have won 13 of 17 postseason games, they have insisted they can play better – particularly on offense. They can. But it’s going to be awful hard to do so unless Green becomes a factor. Kerr’s offense cries out for a stretch-4, and Green generally has filled the role admirably. Not so much lately, though, and if he can’t pull it together, the Warriors will have a hard time generating enough offense to win.