UPDATED: June 5 6:35am with full game highlights
It was a thriller and some how and some way the Golden State Warriors were able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-100 in overtime in Game 1 on the NBA Finals. LeBron James played another incredible post-season game scoring 44 points but took 38 shots to get there, while dishing off only 6 assists. Those are numbers that Golden State will take every game.
The Warriors were led by Steph Curry’s 26 points and 8 assists as the Dubs battled back from a 14-point first quarter deficit to move within three wins of their franchises’ first title in 40 years.
James had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds but his 21-foot left-wing fade careened off the rim, Iman Shumpert grabbed the loose ball and hoisted up a desperation fling that just fell short as time expired sending the game into overtime.
Once in OT the Dubs clamped down on defense and the big minutes from the Cavaliers starters seemed to catch up with them as they missed their first 12 shots leading to the Warriors eight point win.
The Warriors will absolutely live with LeBron James taking 38 shots. If he is taking roughly 25 shots and dishing off 8-to-10 assists the Cavaliers are much better. JR Smith was only 3-for-13 and seemed to disappear after knocking down his first two three’s. Kyrie Irving was simply amazing before crumpling to the hardwood and aggravating an already sore knee in the last few minutes. This could be a series changer. Irving was dynamic offensively in putting up 23 points before the injury. Cavs fans need to bust out the rosary beads praying for his health or else this could be a short series.
The Cavaliers post players had their way with Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are a load and the Warriors didn’t have answers. When Mozgov and Thompson were on the floor together, the Dubs were lost. But, the problem for Cleveland is they don’t have a bench that comes close to duplicating what those twin towers give them. The Cavaliers decimated the Warriors on the boards in the first and third quarters, the Warriors, with their depth, were able to repay the favor in the second and fourth quarters and get the game even.
The Warriors were the Warriors. I had a feeling they would take their medicine with LeBron and see if he could beat them by himself, and he almost did. The fear if the Warriors double Lebron is that JR Smith and Shumpert will start feeling their oats. For the Warriors that can not happen and they did a good job of staying disciplined with that approach even as it seemed the game might slip out of their grasp. The Warriors will face multi-faceted challenges if the triumvirate of James, Smith and Shumpert are in a rhythm. So, by singling James, and playing straight up and not helping off of the others you do take your medicine. But, it also gives you the best chance to win.
Andre Iguodala was amazing. He scored 15 points but his job on LeBron was admirable. When Iggy guarded LeBron the King shot 4-for-14 and turned the ball over 3 times. James scored ONLY 11 of his 44 when guarded by Iguodala. He is clearly the Warriors best option to defend James. Warriors fans may have to put up with James scoring 40 maybe even 50 points in games in this series, but as long as James isn’t getting his mates involved the Warriors will be in good shape.
It’s not a coincidence that the Warriors made their runs in the second and fourth quarters. That is when the Dubs got to rely on the great depth of their bench to get after the Cavaliers second unit. There isn’t a comparison between the two reserve squads. The Dubs outscored the Cavs bench 35-to-9. The only bench player who saw minutes tonight for the Warriors and didn’t play well was Leandro Barbosa. I expect him to play better in Game 2 on Sunday. Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli along with Mo Speights all played well and the Warriors will need them the rest of the way.
Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes did what they have done all season and combined for 58 of the Dubs 108. Despite the team-wide slow start the Warriors found their rhythm and were able to get Game 1 in a game that lived up to the billing. The knee injury to Kyrie Irving is just a massive storyline. Even if he is not 100 percent, the threat of what he can bring and his ability to knock down a perimeter jumper will help Cleveland. Matthew Dellavedova is solid, but he can’t be playing 20-25 minutes in this series. As Lebron said in the post-game if Irving can not go “its next man up.” Can that next man be effective enough to counter the superior depth of the Warriors. We’ll see……….
Game 2 is Sunday with the Warriors having a chance to go up 2-games-to-none.