Warriors Overcome Slow Start to Beat Cavaliers In Game 1 of NBA Finals

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors emerged victorious, 108-100, in an overtime thriller to take 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. The score was close throughout, but in the end Stephen Curry came up huge in overtime to lead his team to victory. LeBron James led all scorers with 44 points, while Curry had 26 points and some huge free throws in what looks like an instant classic.

The rust from a long layoff was obvious, as both teams missed easy shots and looked generally sloppy early on. As both offenses settled, the Cavaliers started to find cracks on Golden State’s defense by having James isolate on the left mid-post and find cutters as soon as someone helped. Cleveland’s offensive rebounding afforded them extra possessions and the threes were falling. The Warriors, meanwhile, didn’t look comfortable in the first quarter and trailed by 10 by the end of it.

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As the benches checked in, Golden State’s superior depth became apparent. The Cavaliers’ offense went dry while the the Warriors’ did just enough to close the gap. Once the starters checked back in, the jitters from the star of the game were gone and Curry — guarded closely in the first quarter — found some gaps to exploit, leading to a 12-2 run. Unlike most teams, the Cavaliers were able to hold on thanks to James‘ 19-first half points and some timely corner three-pointers by Iman Shumpert. A J.R. Smith three at the buzzer had Cleveland up three at the half.

The third quarter saw the Cavaliers’ starters once again look better than the Warriors’, but the difference wasn’t as pronounced as it was to start the game. Golden State stopped helping on James and turned him into a scorer. LeBron binged on points, but the offense stalled a bit and that prevented the ball movement that leads to open three-pointers. The Warriors couldn’t take advantage of that moment, but did win the quarter by three points to tie the game going into the final period.

Neither squad could create separation in the fourth quarter. Whenever James hit a shot, there was an answer on the other end. Nothing came easy for either team, and going into the final minutes, the score was so close that it was impossible to predict the winner.

With the game tied at 98 and less than a minute to go, Curry got past Kyrie Irving and it looked like he had a clear path to the rim. Irving recovered and surprisingly blocked it from behind.

The Cavaliers got the ball back with 24 seconds left. James missed a contested three-pointer and the game went to overtime.

The Warriors dominated from there, with Curry in particular coming up big. He got defenders biting on pump fakes and got himself to the line, where he calmly hit his four free throws. The defense –with an inspired Andre Iguodala leading the way — didn’t allow the Cavaliers any easy shots, and a corner three by Harrison Barnes with two minutes to go sealed the deal. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 10-2 in overtime and lead 1-0 in the NBA finals.

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SOURCE: SB Nation – Kyle Terada

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