Steph Curry scored 35 points in three quarters, Andre Iguodala added 20 and Golden State returned to the arena where they won the NBA championship last season as they embarrassed the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-98 on Monday night.
The Warriors built a 30-point lead in the first half, pushed their advantage to 43 after half-time and bounced back from a shocking loss in Detroit over the weekend by winning their fifth straight over Cleveland.
Only a late flurry of points helped the Cavs avoid their worst home loss in franchise history. “They did what they wanted,” LeBron James said.
Curry made seven three-pointers — his last put the Warriors ahead by 40 late in the third quarter — and the reigning league MVP seemed right at home in Quicken Loans Arena, where the Warriors clinched their first title since 1975 last June. On Sunday, Curry said he hoped the visitor’s locker room “still smells a little bit like champagne.”
Curry, however, later downplayed that boast. “The last time I was there we had a trophy, we had champagne and we had goggles,” Curry said, recalling last season’s Game 6. “We had a good time.”
With Curry leading the charge, the Warriors overwhelmed the Cavs, who lost at Golden State 89-83 on Christmas Day and could do little to stop the defending champions.
James scored 16 for Cleveland, who went 5-1 on their longest road trip this season. And like last season’s finals, James didn’t have much help. Kyrie Irving had eight points on three-of-11 shooting and Kevin Love had three points in 21 forgettable minutes.
“Against the top teams you want to play well and we haven’t done that. We’re 0-3,” James said of Cleveland’s record against Golden State and San Antonio, the West’s top powers. “Tonight was an example of how far we have to go to win a championship.”
Even though Cleveland are healthier now than in December, an expected battle between two of the league’s best teams never materialized. This one belonged to Golden State from beginning to end.
A frustrating night for the Cavs bubbled over in the third quarter when JR Smith lowered his shoulder and charged into Harrison Barnes, flattening the Warriors forward. Smith, who arrived at the arena less than an hour before tip-off, was ejected.
Cavs coach David Blatt said he was not aware of Smith’s tardiness. “If that’s so, it’s not a good thing for sure,” Blatt said. Smith was gone when Cleveland’s locker room opened for reporters.
Draymond Green added 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who rested their starters in the fourth.
Curry quickly reminded an amped-up Cleveland crowd what he did to the Cavs last summer by burying a three-pointer on his first shot. He made three more long-range shots in the first quarter while the Warriors opened a 34-21 lead.
Golden State were just warming up.
Green’s three-pointer put the Warriors up by 16, and Curry scored a three-point play to give Golden State a 23-point lead. On Cleveland’s next possession, James was backing down in the lane when Curry came up from behind, stripped the ball and went the length of the floor for an easy layup to make it 57-32.
“They definitely played like champions,” Irving said.