Stephen Curry sets NBA Finals record with nine threes in Warriors' 122-103 Game 2 win over Cavaliers

Stephen Curry hit an NBA Finals-record nine 3-pointers en route to 33 points, Kevin Durant posted 26 points, and Klay Thompson added 20 on a bum ankle as the Golden State Warriors soundly defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Steve Kerr put JaVale McGee in his starting lineup, and it worked perfectly

Headlines were made before the game even started, with the Warriors officially ruling out Andre Iguodala, who continues to recover from a bone bruise, and announcing that Thompson and Patrick McCaw would play. Thompson suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 1.

While that was expected, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr changing his starting lineup was not. Kerr removed young big man Kevon Looney from the starting lineup in favor of JaVale McGee. Looney scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in Game 1 but was a team-worst minus-10. The Cavaliers also dominated the boards — 53-38 — and 19 of those came on the offensive end. McGee was a plus-seven in just six minutes in Game 1.

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The best photos from the 2018 NBA Finals
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 03: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a layup against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 3, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 03: LeBron James #23 and George Hill #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the game against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 3, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
June 3, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter in game two of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
June 3, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) go for a loose ball during the second quarter in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 03: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter in Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 3, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Tristan Thompson #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors exchange words in overtime during Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 06: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a layup defended by LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third quarter during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 06: Stephen Curry #30 and Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate with Kevin Durant #35 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 06: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a jumper over Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 06: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jun 6, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors center Jordan Bell (2) dunks the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second quarter in game three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Jun 6, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and Golden State Warriors center Jordan Bell (2) go for a rebound in game three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Shamus/pool photo-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: Jeff Green #32 and Larry Nance Jr. #22 of the Cleveland Cavaliers compete for the ball with Draymond Green #23 and Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks off the court after being defeated by the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 108-85 to win the 2018 NBA Finals. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: Kevin Durant #35 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 108-85 to win the 2018 NBA Finals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 108-85 to win the 2018 NBA Finals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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It paid immediate dividends: McGee put home wide-open dunks on Golden State’s first two possessions. Overall the Warriors scored five straight buckets in the paint on either layups or dunks to open the game before Thompson splashed a three and Draymond Green slammed one home on the break as the Warriors jumped out to a 15-7 lead behind 7-of-7 shooting, forcing a Cleveland timeout.

The Warriors operated at a high level on the offensive end in the first quarter, shooting 15 of 23 (65.2 percent) from the field. But the Cavaliers hung tough after the hosts’ hot start and trailed just 32-28 after the first period.

The Warriors surged ahead in the second quarter

The Cavaliers continued to hang tough in the early part of the second, and they whittled the lead down to four — 40-36 — after a traditional three-point play from Kevin Love.

But then the Warriors went on a quick run that has made them the league’s most dangerous team for the past several years. A 7-0 spurt, capped by an off-the-dribble three from Curry, gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead of the night, 47-36.

Curry hit two more deep threes in the half, and the Cavaliers struggled to keep pace with one of the game’s all-time great shooters. Led by Curry’s 16 points, the Warriors led 59-46. Golden State shot 59.5 percent from the field and a sterling 82.6 from inside the arc.

The Cleveland offense got going in the third quarter, but Golden State answered

The Cavaliers were just 3-of-10 from deep in the first half, but they made five of their first seven out of the break.

The visitors looked to be in good position to go into the quarter down within single digits after a three from Love brought it to 76-71, but the hosts turned on the jets again over the last few minutes and led 90-80 after three quarters, thanks to a corner three from David West. It was a big shot for the Warriors to keep their distance and a surprising one, too: Up to that point, West had played over 3,100 minutes of playoff basketball and had made just two triples.

Still, it was a solid 12 minutes for the visitors. The Warriors have thrived in third quarters throughout the playoffs and have owned the league’s best third-quarter point differential four seasons in a row. That the Cavaliers made up ground was a good sign; that they remained down double digits despite the initial hot start proved costly.

Stephen Curry broke the NBA Finals record for made threes in a single game (nine) as the Warriors dominated the fourth quarter

The Cavaliers maintained striking distance early in the fourth, but Curry’s seventh and eighth threes proved to be a pretty perfect summary of the night as a whole.


And here’s the record-breaking ninth:

The Cavaliers — who looked both exhausted and disheartened — removed their regulars with about four minutes remaining and shortly thereafter, another dominant performance from the defending champions was in the books.

The Warriors’ role players were terrific

The biggest adjustment for the Warriors was bringing in the mercurial McGee for Looney.  McGee set the tone early with two powerful jams and finished the night with 12 points. He was terrific on both ends, but it was on the offensive end where his impact was felt most: Surrounded by terrific shooters, the Warriors need big men who can roll off screens, catch and finish at the rim. McGee was a perfect 6 of 6 from the field.

Shaun Livingston’s midrange game was once again immaculate: The wiry point guard was also flawless shooting the ball, knocking down all five of his attempts. He also added five rebounds and was a plus-eight in 15 minutes.

It was another rough night for J.R. Smith

Just 48 hours after committing one of the most infamous errors in NBA history, J.R. Smith looked for redemption with a big Game 2.

He found none.

The rowdy Oracle Arena crowd cheered him in introductions and mockingly chanted “MVP” at him when he shot a free throw in the first quarter. The streaky wing man shot two of nine from the field and one of four from deep. He missed many open looks but also took some contested ones that resulted in open-floor opportunities for the Warriors.

The good thing for Smith is that his team returns to Quicken Loans Arena for Game 3, and he has thrived there this postseason. He’s shooting 38.5 percent from the field in Cleveland (compared with 32.0 on the road) and is a plus-5.8 per game at home (compared with minus-3.8 on the road).

George Hill, who also got cheers after his missed free throw set up Smith’s mishap, responded much better, scoring 15 points and adding two steals, three assists and just one turnover.

Cleveland needs to make changes

Kerr made changes that put his team in an advantageous position, and now it’s Tyronn Lue’s turn. A player such as Smith seems bound to bounce back, especially at home, given his track record. But there are other personnel decisions to be made.

Mid-season acquisition Jordan Clarkson has been disastrous this series, shooting 3-of-13 in the two games combined and looking completely out of rhythm. He played just eight minutes in Game 2 and could be dropped from the rotation entirely in the coming days. Fellow trade acquisition Rodney Hood — who offers better length and a more diverse game — could be a potential replacement.

Necessary adjustments go deeper than that, though. The Cavaliers were particularly putrid defending pick-and-roll situations on Sunday, and they ended up in several difficult situations — Hill defending Durant in the post, for example — even when they rotated well. Part of that is what makes Golden State so good. Its offensive portfolio is so diverse. But Cleveland must make an adjustment: Durant scored 26 points despite attempting just three 3-pointers, the fewest he’s taken in a game this postseason.

Game 3 is Wednesday night

If the Cavaliers want to have a chance in this series, they’ll need to win at home — a place they haven’t lost since the first game of the postseason — in Game 3. The game tips off at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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