OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Cleveland Cavaliers came into the NBA Finals as a confident, well-rested team enjoying a 12-2 postseason record.
They will head back home facing steep odds against them achieving their goal of bringing the first pro sports championship back to their city in 52 years.
The Cavs are the 32nd team in league history to fall down 2-0 in the Finals following Sunday’s 110-77 obliteration by the Golden State Warriors. Only three of the previous 31 teams to find themselves in that predicament came back to win the title.
"I think we're surprised the way they won, yes, but that's what the playoffs are about. They took care of home court. We know we're going home. We have to play better. The guys are not discouraged. More pissed than anything," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
There was little to like about Cleveland’s execution in Game 2. After vowing to cut down on turnovers and convert the inside looks they received in Game 1, the Cavs were just as off on Sunday, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field, with 17 turnovers leading to 26 points for the Warriors.
Making matters worse, Kevin Love was placed on the league’s concussion protocol after receiving an inadvertent elbow to the back of the head from Harrison Barnes in the second quarter. Love played the first two minutes of the third quarter before exiting with dizziness, ending his night with just five points on 2-for-7 shooting and three rebounds. His status for Wednesday’s Game 3 is unknown.
"Well, losing one of our top three players is always going to be a big impact. But right now he's in a concussion protocol, and right now he's just day-to-day," Lue said.
The rest of the Cavs’ vaunted Big Three didn’t play much better.
Kyrie Irving, coming off a 7-for-22 game to start the series, hit his first two shots on Sunday before missing nine of his next 12. He finished with 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting (0-for-3 from 3) and just one assist.
LeBron James, who took over the Finals in Game 2 a year ago with 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in an overtime win, couldn’t replicate that brilliance on Sunday. He couldn’t even come close, really, as he finished with 19 points on 7-for-17 shooting, nine assists, eight rebounds and four steals, but marred that line with a game-high seven turnovers.
Cleveland held a 21-19 lead after the first quarter before the Warriors, on the backs of Draymond Green (28 points on 11-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists), Stephen Curry (18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists) and Klay Thompson (17 points, five assists), broke open the game by outscoring the Cavs 33-23 in the second quarter, 30-18 in the third quarter and 28-15 in the fourth.
The Cavs’ bench did make a minor improvement from Game 1 thanks to Richard Jefferson's 12 points and five rebounds, but was still outscored 40-31 by the Warriors’ reserves.
The Cavs will return to Quicken Loans Arena, where they are undefeated this postseason at 7-0, but to keep that perfect record intact will have to fend off the team with the greatest regular-season record in league history that appears to be charging hard toward a second consecutive championship.