The Golden State Warriors came out on top of the Cavaliers in overtime, 124-114, in what is flat out one of the most appalling finishes to any NBA finals game ever. Nobody gave Cleveland any chance in this series. Everyone expected the Warriors to run them out of the building but that simply wasn’t the case.
The Cavaliers’ offense came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. LeBron James was masterful and Cleveland led by one at the end of the quarter. The Cavaliers led by 11 early in the game. Stephen Curry played very well in the first half, scoring 18 including a buzzer-beating 30 foot three pointer. The Cavaliers defended Kevin Durant well in the first half but he found his groove eventually. Durant finished with 26 points, nine boards, and six assists.
The vaunted Warriors third quarter began well, seeming to pull away from Cleveland. But LeBron James was having none of that and helped his team recover. Cleveland took a lead midway in the fourth. The Cavaliers hung around and LeBron James’ domination gave them a lead late in the fourth, 96-94. On one of the last possessions, Stephen Curry drove to the hole and drew and one, giving Golden State a one-point lead. The Warriors fouled George Hill on the ensuing play who missed one of two free throws, leaving the score at 97 apiece. Then, J.R. Smith made the most J.R. Smith play in history. He grabbed a huge offensive rebound but inexplicably ran out to the three-point line. Through the magic of lip-reading, we learn that Smith thought Cleveland had the lead. LeBron James tried to call timeout but it was for naught.
Golden State took over in OT, taking advantage of a Cleveland team that was exhausted physically and demoralized mentally. The Warriors scored at ease and Cleveland couldn’t buy a bucket. To end the game, Tristan Thompson fouled Shaun Livingston and was immediately ejected. A skirmish ensued and brought an end to a disappointing, very poorly officiated NBA Finals game.
Stephen Curry dominated on offense, finishing with 29 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. After an early injury, Klay Thompson made his impact felt, scoring 24 points. Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet, with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, and five steals. This Warriors team played a good game offensively but could not figure out LeBron James on defense. Nobody expected them to have the trouble they did against the Cavs on both sides of the ball. Steve Kerr will certainly make adjustments and tweak matchups heading into game two.
The Cavaliers missed a Golden opportunity to start the potential biggest upset in league history with a road win over the most talented team of all time. Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson provided great energy, defense, and rebounding; Nance recorded nine points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Love was vital on offense, adding 21 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. He spaced the floor well and took advantages of mismatches down low. Love also fought hard on defense and did a good job on switches.
LeBron James had an all-time performance and it all went to waste.
James was a man on a mission tonight. No matter what they tried, no Warrior could stop the King. He scored in a manner of ways, from stepback threes to ferocious dunks, to double clutch layups. James had the best finals performance of his career, putting up the gargantuan stat line of 51 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, shooting 59.4% from the field and 10-11 from the charity stripe. He is one of only six players all-time to score 50 in a finals game, and the only one to lose in such game.
This is a series-defining game. If George Hill hits that free throw or J.R. Smith shows any signs of competence, we may have the beginning to a monumental upset. Stealing home floor is still a possibility for the Cavs but it becomes significantly more difficult. The city of Cleveland was robbed tonight. Cleveland is even more of a longshot to win this series than they already would. Game two airs on Sunday on ABC at 8 P.M. EST.