Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers probably didn’t go as most expected. Yes, the Warriors and matchup favorite won, but perhaps not in the fashion we assumed. Steph Curry went 4-15 for 11 points and Klay Thompson was 4-12 for 9 points.
And Golden State won 104-89. This was made possible due to a GSW bench explosion, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa in particular (Andre Iguodala was great off the bench as well but ended up playing more minutes than starter Harrison Barnes). Livingston only needed 10 shots to reach 20 points, and Barbosa pitched in with 11 points on 5-5 shooting.
Draymond Green had more of a characteristic game than he was having in the Oklahoma City Thunder series. His line finished as 16/11/7. Andrew Bogut poured in 10 and it shouldn’t be an afterthought that the often unaggressive Barnes went 6-10 from the floor.
On Cleveland’s side, its defense simply wasn’t good enough against players outside of the Splash Brothers. The Warriors only going 33.3 percent from deep is near optimal for Cleveland, but they also were 49.4 percent from the floor compared to a 38.1 percent number for the Cavs. A bright spot was Cleveland going 18-20 from the line rather than the 9-10 showing GSW had.
LeBron James did what we’ve grown used to in his recent NBA Finals showings – less than awesome shooting but a tremendous floor game. The King just missed a triple-double with his 23/12/9 line, however, he was 9-21 shooting, and his running mates weren’t the most efficient, either.
Kyrie Irving struggled to find a rhythm in Oakland. Although going 11-12 from the line is a great number for Uncle Drew, his 26 points came on 7-22 shooting. Kevin Love began the game with a three and had 13 rebounds, but he took 17 shots to land his 17 points.
An odd situation occurred when Andre Iguodala was struck below the belt by Matthew Dellavedova. When Dellavedova reached from behind for a steal, he ended up striking Iguodala in the man region. Iguodala stepped to the backup point guard and players, as usual, were separated before conflicts escalated. The ruling was a common foul.
Another aspect of Game 1 that had to be seen to be believed was J.R. Smith, perhaps the most notorious chucker in the NBA, taking just three shots in 36 minutes. The disappearance of Smith prompted a heavy social media response questioning his absence, hardly the place for the most reliable sentiments, but it was astonishing to see such an unreasonably confident player shrink in this setting. Smith has shrunk in past playoff situations, but three shot attempts? That’s a J.R. Smith even J.R. Smith doesn’t know.
Moving forward, we’ll have to see if the Splash Brothers improve for Game 2. Their issues obviously didn’t matter in Game 1, but we can’t expect the bench to carry GSW to a Finals series win against LeBron and company. On Cleveland’s end, they simply aren’t going to win this matchup scoring 89 points per game. They need to drastically improve finishing around the rim for Game 2.
That showdown will once again be in Oakland on Sunday, 6/5 at 8:00 PM ET.
|9:00 PM ET, June 2, 2016
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, California Attendance: 19,596
|S. Kaun||DNP — INACTIVE|
|J. McRae||DNP — INACTIVE|
|K. Looney||DNP — INACTIVE|
|J. McAdoo||DNP — INACTIVE|
Officials: Ken Mauer, Marc Davis, Ed Malloy
Time of Game: 2:24