Cleveland trailed right from the first basket as Steph Curry scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists while Draymond Green's triple double added to the damage he did to LeBron James in a controversial second-quarter flagrant foul. LeBron himself scored 20 and rebounded 8 times - his side will need a lot to rebound from this crushing defeat though.
Golden State Warriors were feeding off the electric energy at tip-off, surging out of the blocks to build a 7-0 lead punctuated by an emphatic Kevin Durant jam. Kyrie Irving got the visitors off the mark after a timeout was called, but fast-break opportunities were in abundance for the 2015 champions who made full use of it.
Draymond finds Durant for the jam!#DubNation with an early 7-0 lead on @NBAonTNT. #NBARapidReplay pic.twitter.com/mXO53wVNTJ— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2017
What they didn't make full use of, though, was the three-point opportunities. They made only 2 of 9 three-point attempts, although back-to-back long-range attempts from Curry and Iguadola extended the lead to double digits. A further three-pointer from Curry put the Warriors on a dominant stance after 12 minutes, leading 37-22.
Replay Review (Game Crew): if Green committed a flagrant foul in Q2 of #CLEatGSW. Ruling: Flagrant 1 on Green. Contact deemed unnecessary.— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) January 17, 2017
That didn't appear to stagger any of the forward stream of momentum acquired by the Warriors, who had the "Dub Nation" on their feet with a barrage of points. They were on the verge of taking a 30-point lead, and with Durant recovering with rebounding dunks, they finished emphatically, kicking it out to Curry for the buzzer-beater three-pointer and 29-point lead. The reigning MVP was toasting, with a double double (14 points, 10 assists).Warriors' Draymond Green hard fouls Cavaliers' LeBron James & then mocks his flailing (all angles) pic.twitter.com/rzOTYiXhFt— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) January 17, 2017
#DubNation ends the half in style!— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2017
End of 2 on @NBAonTNT:@warriors: 78@cavs: 49#NBARapidReplay pic.twitter.com/IN5NgagM7c
The Splash Brothers were continuing to nudge the game well out of reach for the champions, forcing yet another timeout from Tyronn Lue after both got in on the act with beyond-the-arc shots. There was already the feeling, even with over 12 minutes left, that the game was wrapped up, Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green combined for 12 points, along with 9 assists and 13 rebounds respectively to leave the court to a round of applause.
Kevin Durant landed another huge psychological blow when he blocked LeBron, and the Cavs were a frustrated outfit, having been trailing for pretty much the whole game. Even a 13-1 lead couldn't do much to change the complexion of the game.
95-71 at the end of the 3rd. This game is child's play for the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/QpDS0njUtz— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 17, 2017
Damage limitation was now on the agenda as Cavaliers unloaded their bench, and they managed to pull the lead to around 20 points, although that wouldn't be sustained for long. Draymond Green's night would only get better when he grabbed a rebound to secure a triple double, making it seventeen out of seventeen for the Warriors when the athlete has got those stats.
Klay Thompson's three contrasted the emotions: a dejected Cavalier fanbase who sulked knowing that a storm was coming should they meet in the NBA Finals, and an over-the-moon Golden State support who were only encouraged.
|Image: USA TODAY|
Before the game, LeBron James said that the Warriors are "even more dangerous than they were last year", spot on as shown on Martin Luther King Day. It's a massive boost for the 2015 champions who are after this year's rings as well.
Cavaliers were outscored by 32 points with LeBron James on the court, 2nd-worst of career (-34 vs Warriors last season)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2017
DUB NATION!— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 17, 2017
Warriors avenge Christmas Day loss with a dominant win over the defending NBA champions, snapping 4-game losing streak vs Cavs. pic.twitter.com/bOo1fJGRyx
|Image: Ben Margot / AP|