As expected, the Warriors jumped on the Cavaliers early and made the final outcome a formality yesterday. After having evaded embarrassment in Game One with a combination of skill and luck, they knew well enough to hit the ground running and impose their will on the match from the get-go. The result was a wire-to-wire laugher that exposed the glaring disparity in talent between the protagonists. The O was rocking in part because of poor coverage from the visitors, and in larger measure because the hosts were playing with such sharpness that no defense could have stopped them with consistency.
To be sure, the Cavaliers tried to keep the score close as best they could. It didn’t help their cause that they began Game Two without any sense of urgency, perhaps still reeling from the heartbreak of the championship series opener. Still, they proved able to keep pace once they got their bearings, even managing to claim the third quarter, during which time the Warriors usually pull away. As things turned out, however, the inevitable was simply delayed. By the middle of the final period, only the final margin was in doubt.
Under the circumstances, it was but fitting to find two-time Most Valuable Player Steph Curry at the forefront of the Warriors’ attack. For all the scoring prowess of Klay Thompson, the all-around brilliance of Draymond Green, and the end-to-end ascendancy of Kevin Durant, his is the engine that drives the defending titleholders. Much has been said of his ridiculously long range, but it merely highlights one facet of his competitiveness; for his size, he’s likewise crafty with drives, finishing with accuracy or passing with flourish. Which is to say he’s unstoppable in his own right.
Certainly, the bombs Curry unleashed did not just keep the Warriors ahead; more importantly, they deflated the otherwise-resilient Cavaliers. Whenever the latter seemed to get close, he was ready with a spectacular three. And so on point was he that he wound up with a Finals-record nine treys by the end of his assault. He wasn’t joking when he ranked the MVP award last in his list of priorities heading into the series. All the same, he’s making a convincing case that he deserves to win it.
Looking ahead, the series moves to the Q, where the Cavaliers find themselves mimicking their plight in the East Finals; they need to win Game Three and, subsequently, three of the next four matches. Unlike the Celtics, though, the Warriors are much more seasoned and built to protect homecourt advantage, the 2016 collapse aside. The shock of Game One has dissipated. The regularity of Game Two has prevailed. The remainder of the best-of-seven affair should prove familiar and predictable.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.