OAKLAND — Somehow, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in worse shape than a year ago. Much worse.
This would be considered a bad development for Cleveland, one of many.
Kevin Love left the game in the third quarter after getting accidentally elbowed in the head in the second quarter by Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. Love complained of dizziness when he left and was placed in the NBA concussion protocol. He had only five points and three rebounds in 20 minutes.
James had eight turnovers and air-balled a three-point shot in the third quarter that delighted the Oracle Arena crowd. He finished with 19 points and nine assists.
The Cavaliers shot abysmally again, 35% on Sunday after 38% accuracy in Game 1.
Game 3 is Wednesday in Cleveland, and it's vital for the Cavs to win. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.
This was markedly different from a year ago, when Cleveland tied the Warriors after stealing Game 2 here without injured starters Irving and Love. Cleveland headed back home and even took an improbable 2-1 lead as James scored 40 points and Matthew Dellavedova proved to be more than just a hardcourt pest.
It was a brief flame that faded quickly, the Cavaliers losing three in a row as James’ Finals record fell to 2-4.
More Cavaliers trouble this time could be found in the big-picture stats — James’ teams had won nine consecutive Game 2s after losing Game 1 of a playoff series. There wasn’t a 10th.
The Game 2 window opened a crack when Curry left early in the third quarter with his fourth foul. The Cavaliers trailed by 10 at the time. There would be no push from them as Green kept scoring, Klay Thompson made a 29-foot three-pointer and reserve guard Leandro Barbosa had another solid game (10 points on five-for-seven shooting).
Curry, in his limited time, scored 18 points and added four assists.
Green was the key, undoubtedly, making five of eight three-point attempts and adding seven rebounds and five assists. Golden State Coach Steve Kerr spoke highly of players with his versatility before the game.
The NBA’s defensive player of the year, the 6-foot-7 Green can play anywhere along the front line for the Warriors. He can also score, in case the Cavaliers weren’t aware of it before Game 2.
“Versatility has become a huge factor in the league,” Kerr said. “Guys who used to be dismissed as ‘tweeners’ are now celebrated as positionless players.”
The Cavaliers have existed for 45 years without an NBA championship, another hole in Cleveland’s downtrodden sports history. If there isn’t quick improvement, make it 46 years.