OAKLAND — After two dominating performances, the Warriors up are 2-0 in the NBA Finals.
But, ahem, they’ve done that part before.
“We know. Trust me, we know,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said late Sunday night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, know, too, so they head home for Game 3 on Wednesday with a disproportionate amount of confidence for a team that just got their hats handed to them. The Cavs were in this boat a year ago, righted the ship and won the championship in seven games.
The Warriors can’t blow it again … can they?
“They’re going to keep coming, man, there’s a lot of work for us left to do,” Stephen Curry said after a 132-113 victory in Game 2.
Or as Zaza Pachulia, channeling his inner Yogi Berra, put it: “We’re not thinking we are very close even though we are.”
Here are five reasons the Warriors won’t collapse this time:
1. Kevin Durant is a monster
Duh. But Durant’s significance in this series might not be for the reason you think. The four-time scoring champion has changed these Finals with his Dikembe Mutombo act, blocking five shots in Game 2 and playing stellar interior defense.
“I thought Kev’s defense was unreal,” Kerr said Sunday night. “And it was probably the key to the whole game.”
Durant, the celebrated (and/or ridiculed) offseason acquisition, tallied 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and three steals Sunday, making him the first player to post those numbers in a playoff game.
He also is helping to wear down LeBron James on defense. Durant is 10 for 17 for 23 points with only one turnover when James is guarding him in this series, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
2. Stephen Curry is healthy
An overlooked aspect of Curry’s game is his movement away from the ball. At his best, he’s a dragonfly on the court, zipping from one spot to the next. His stats production is welcome — Curry had his first career playoff triple-double Sunday — but the mere act of being mega-mobile again opens up the court because defenders have to keep up with his relentless energy.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue went so far as to say Kyrie Irving’s shaky start — 18 for 45 from the field over two games — can be blamed on the game’s hidden track meet.
“Defensively, (Irving) has to do a lot more,” Lue said. “Running around and chasing Steph and Klay (Thompson) and having to be on alert, it takes a lot out of you offensively.”
3. Tristan Thompson is in check
In the fateful seven-game series a year ago, the Cavaliers’ center averaged 10.3 points and 10.1 rebounds.
This year, it’s 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.
In short (actually, in tall), Warriors centers Pachulia and David West are winning the wrestling match in the paint and keeping from Thompson from hurting Golden State on the boards. Thompson led the NBA Finals with 27 offensive rebounds a year ago but this year has been a non-factor.
Thompson countered that the Warriors are so focused on him that it’s opening things up…