How would the Warriors respond to the poor showing on Saturday? Would the big stage on MLK day shake Golden State going on the road to the East elite? Let's see how the game shook out!
How do you show the league that you haven't lost a step? You come out to a 10-2 run from the tip, hitting their first 5 shots. You continue that blitz on through the first quarter, keeping the Cavs on their toes with great defense and hot shooting to extend your lead to 15 before the quarter ends. You finish your flurry with eight straight points from Steph Curry (6-7, 16 pts in the first) to have Cleveland reeling before the game even starts.
The Warriors shook off any story of struggles with a near-perfect first quarter, shooting 61% from the field on 9 assists. They capitalized on 3 Cleveland turnovers and contested jumpers, keeping Kevin Love out of the game completely and limiting Kyrie Irving to zero points in the first. Cleveland did get hot shooting from J.R. Smith (4/5, 9 pts) and 6 from James, but that was it.
So much for all the concerns about #Warriors aches and pains and fatigue. The blood is flowing warm tonight.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleCSN) January 19, 2016
It was a balanced attack from the Warriors, getting 5 from Klay, 3 from Barnes and 4 from Ezeli. All in all, a great sign of a team that needed a strong start to shake off the loss in Detroit.
Draymond Green is getting fancy with the passes. Here, he goes behind-the-back to Festus Ezeli: https://t.co/n2z6de197o— KNBR (@KNBR) January 19, 2016
Score at the end of the 1st: 34-21
Cleveland kept it's starters in to start the 2nd, as the Warriors rotated through a more shallow bench. The reserves had a harder time keeping Irving in front of them, leading to open shots from Anderson Varejao and Shumpert. The teams traded basket until the starters were able to return at the 9 minute mark. Lead by great scrambling defense, 2 thunderous dunks from Andre Iguodala on fast breaks after missed baskets, the Warriors pushed their lead to 20 at the 5 minute mark.
Luke Walton played this game like a playoff game, as he should. He would leave Ian Clark and Brandon Rush on the bench in favor of more minutes to Iguodala, Barbosa and Livingston (though Clarke would see some play toward the end of the 2nd when Curry got his 3rd foul).
As Golden State pushed on Cleveland continued to sputter showing no passing, easy mistakes and silly fouls. Timmy Mozgov would grab himself two silly fouls in less than a minute killing the crowd, pushing the Warriors to easy turnovers and solid defense and looking completely out of it through a 16-3 run. Kevin Love would leave the game with a hurt hand and would appear to be disinterested in scoring or playing defense at all during his run. The Warriors would set a new season-high for points scored agains Cleveland in a half, putting in 70.
I know it's reg. season but SA was creeping closer + closer to GSW and GSW needed to kick a contender's ass to retain alphadogness... so...— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 19, 2016
Hey so maybe Kyrie and Love would have just been two weak defenders for the Warriors to pick on in last year’s Finals.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) January 19, 2016
Stephen Curry has his 800th career steal and is the 4th player in GSW history w/800+ steals, joining Chris Mullin, Rick Barry & Tim Hardaway
— GSWStats (@gswstats) January 19, 2016
Score at the half: 70-44
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 2-for-12 shooting in the first half.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) January 19, 2016
Cleveland frustration showed to begin the 3rd - missing their first three shots including a Love airball. All that build up lead to a shoulder tackle by J.R. Smith leading to Mr. Smith being sent to the locker room. Guess he should have tried basketball rather than linebacker over the middle on a receiver. The Cavs showed just how mature and composed they could be facing adversity, with chippy hard fouls all night.
The Warriors fought for every loose ball tonight in ways we had not seen recently. We saw more deflections go their way, more 50/50 balls on the floor end up in their hands, and more hustle finally pay off. Both teams would shoot a fairly inefficient quarter that would find more free throws than made shots. As the Warriors ran away with it at the end of the third, the game turned a bit ugly, as LeBron James got into it with Festus Ezeli and Iguodala got checked on a layup by Shumpert. The question seems to not be if the Warriors would win, but how quickly they could get the starters to the bench so nobody would get hurt.
Score at end of the third: 104-67
Start of the 4th quarter and many seats are now empty at The Q...— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) January 19, 2016
The Warriors up 40 to start the 4th? On the road? You better believe it. The forecast was for some heavy garbage time to wrap this game up, with plenty of chances for role players like Harrison Barnes and Leandro Barbosa to get some run to help get their legs back after injury. Apparently the Finals MVP decided he really loves Cleveland, hitting 2 threes to start the fourth as we started to wonder if Golden State would take this one by 50.
LeBron's night likely done at 33 minutes, 16 points on 16 shots, -35— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 19, 2016
If only Kyrie and Love were healthy— Vontae (@GSWarrior9) January 19, 2016
Not much defense was seen in the fourth by either second unit. Walton would empty the bench all the way down to Jason Thompson. The bright spots? Nobody got hurt.
Cavs should probably start Love on Barnes, but GSW has seen that movie before w/ Z-Bo/MEM. Also, SPURS-WARRIORS RIGHT NOW PLEASE— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 19, 2016
Warriors have their league-leading 20th game with at least 30 assists this season. Next most: Atlanta with 10— GSWStats (@gswstats) January 19, 2016
Final Score: 132-98
The Warriors walked into Cleveland, embarrassed the east elite, and did it convincingly. It wasn't flashy as much as it was definitive. Golden State looked like the veterans, and Cleveland looked like the rookies who couldn't handle the pressure. Let's hope this was the correction after the wake up call, all leading up to the Warriors facing the Spurs in a week. CAN'T WAIT!!!
(Follow me on twitter @badiehard)