NOW that I have had over 24 hours to soak up what happened in Game 1 of the NBA Finals there are a few very clear things. One is that we shouldn’t overreact to what we saw on Thursday night, but the other is that if Cleveland is to be competitive in this series, they have to get their sh*t together. Otherwise we could see Golden State dismantle them in record breaking fashion.
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ENTERING the Finals we had our biggest break without any NBA basketball in months, meaning that there was a lot of overanalysing and every storyline was beaten to death. How can the Cavs stop Golden State? Will Kevin Love stay hot? Can the Cavs bench keep shooting the lights out? Will Klay Thompson show up? These questions and more dictated our thoughts making up the plot of Game 1. On the night though some of these questions were answered and some new ones were brought to the surface. There was one topic that stood head and shoulders above everything/everyone else. The play of Kevin Durant.
THE Warriors superstar started out red hot with 23 first half points. What was alarming for the Cavs is how easy those 23 points came. Durant had open three’s, easy transition dunks and was picking apart the Cleveland defense. In the third quarter he was buoyed by the shooting from his MVP teammate. Stephen Curry turned it on with four treys and 14 of his 28 points in that quarter as the margin ballooned from single digits to 20+ in the blink of an eye. LeBron James was his usual Hercules-like self finishing with 28/15/8 along with eight turnovers. He was supported by Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) and Kyrie Irving (24 points) as usual, but the rest of his teammates failed to show up. The other Cavalier players combined for just 24 points and shot 3-15 from the three point line.
Image from 10tv.com
TURNOVERS were arguably the biggest factor in Game 1. Golden State had just four for the entire game tying an NBA Finals record, while the Cavaliers had 20! Those turnovers led to way too many easy Warriors buckets and equated in plenty of wasted possessions for the Cavs. Along with their 20 turnovers the entire team didn’t record a single steal, highlighting the Warriors passing precision and elite ‘team focused’ play. There weren’t many times were Golden State looked uncomfortable or out of sync, while on the other side Cleveland looked that way all too often. Once again we shouldn’t overreact to what we saw in Game 1. Theses teams blow each other out all the time. Here are the double digit margins the Cavaliers have lost by in the past two Finals.
2015: Game 4 lost by 21, Game 5 lost by 13.
2016: Game 1 lost by 15, Game 2 lost by 33, Game 4 lost by 11.
THAT being said we are once again reminded that this Golden State team isn’t the same as the one the Cavs have duelled with in the past. If they are going to claim a series W obviously they need to fix some of issues on their side of the ball. Take better care of the ball and convert on a few more plays (they shot just 34.9% for the game) and the margin dramatically reduces, but the biggest concern is the ease at which Golden State scored. They need to disrupt the Warriors mojo if they are going to go back-to-back. Cleveland has to get Dubs out of their groove, making them uncomfortable and force them to make mistakes. Then again it doesn’t look like this Warriors team is one that is capable of making too many mistakes.
1-0. Your move LeBron.
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