GSW smash Cavs in NBA 2017 Finals opener

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points and Stephen Curry hit six three-pointers as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a lopsided 113-91 win in the first game of the NBA Finals on Thursday. The highly-anticipated meeting between the defending champion Cavaliers and the top-seeded Warriors did not disappoint initially, with sensational dunks by LeBron James and Durant during a see-sawing first quarter. But the wheels came off for the visiting Cavaliers as soon as the second half started, with Durant sinking a three-pointer and Warriors center Zaza Pachulia hitting a lay-up on a 10-0 run.

The final outcome was all but a formality at the start of the fourth quarter as the Warriors forged 21 points ahead. The Warriors, who had not played in nine days, were rusty at the outset, missing shots close to the basket and looking anxious on offense. “Our first half was sloppy on the offensive end, we were missing a lot of lay-ups,” said Curry. “A little gun shy with our shots. But our defense allowed us to create some momentum until we got our flow.” The Cavaliers hurt themselves with 20 turnovers, tying an NBA record for a playoff or Finals game.

The Warriors, meanwhile, committed just four, tying the record for the fewest in a Finals game. The Warriors and Cavaliers are meeting in their third consecutive Finals, a matchup many predicted when the season began. Golden State beat Cleveland in the 2015 Finals but let a 3-1 lead slip last year as James’s Cavaliers finally brought the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Ohio. The Warriors know better than to relax against James and their rivals, Durant said. “We’re playing a great team, we’re playing the champs. You know they’re not going to give up at all,” he said on court. The teams will meet again in Oakland on Sunday for Game Two of the best-of-seven series.

Watch the 2017 NBA Finals Full Game Highlights Game 1

What We Learned in Game 1 

Much was made of Kevin Durant’s explosion in his return to the finals, but Stephen Curry was nearly as impressive, scoring 28 points to go with 8 assists and 6 rebounds. As he did all season, and throughout the playoffs, Curry led his team in plus/minus, with the Warriors outscoring the Cavaliers by 20 points in his 34 minutes of playing time. Durant was second on the Warriors with a plus-16 while every single member of the Cavaliers recorded a negative score in that category. Continue reading the main story The Warriors gave playing time to 13 players, but only Durant and Curry scored in double figures. While Draymond Green and Klay Thompson provided plenty of value on the defensive end, the team will likely need more than their 9 and 6 points going forward. Thompson was especially bad on offense, shooting just 3 of 16 from the field and missing all five of his 3-point attempts. When Thompson is playing well, opposing defenses get spread dangerously thin, but if Cleveland decides Thompson is truly not a threat they may be able to put more pressure on Curry and Durant. The Cavaliers got plenty of production from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but the Warriors’ stifling defense completely eliminated the rest of the Cavaliers. Chief among the missing contributors was Kyle Korver, the sharpshooter that Cleveland acquired mid-season to create floor-space. At this stage of his career Korver is on the court almost entirely for his shooting, but he was a ghost in the game, chewing up 20 minutes while taking just three shots and missing all of them. If the Cavaliers cannot find open looks for Korver they need to replace him on the court with someone who contributes more in terms of defense or playmaking. Rebounding has been a chief concern for the Warriors in each of their last two Finals appearances, with Tristan Thompson outclassing the smaller Golden State players repeatedly. The Cavaliers’ starting center was a non-factor in Game 1, pulling down just 4 rebounds in 22 minutes and not scoring any points. The disappearing act resulted in Golden State keeping their rebounding disadvantage to a reasonable 59-50 despite Kevin Love pulling down 21 and James chipping in with 15. Thompson was especially missed in terms of offensive rebounding, where he is among the best in the game at extending possessions. For Cleveland’s offense, which shot 34.9 percent from the field in Game 1, to keep pace with the Warriors they will need Thompson to provide those second chances following missed shots. Anyone taking too much from the result of this game should look into last year’s Games 1 and 2 in which Golden State won by 15 and 33 points. From that point forward the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors by 52 points while winning four of five games to steal the championship.
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