It did not take long for the common basketball watcher to realize just how good Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors are as they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 in Game 1 of the Finals.
Durant was the best player on the floor the entire night. From throwing down wide open dunks to hitting back breaking three’s in defenders faces, he could not be stopped by anyone! He finished the game scoring 38 points along with 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 0 turnovers. Cleveland threw everyone at him, but to no avail. From a fans perspective, it looked as if Durant tallied up 38 points effortlessly. He was letting the game come to him. Drawing the task of guarding LeBron James is one thing, but outplaying him the whole night is another.
Cleveland kept it close in the first half however. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving came to play as the two were hitting tough shots and getting to the line. Kevin Love was a force on the glass, finishing the game with 15 points and 21 rebounds. Outside of those three, everyone else on the team was seemingly a no show. J.R Smith, Triston Thompson, and the entire bench scored a total of 24 points along with 20 rebounds. James ended the night tallying 28 points and 15 rebounds while Irving finished scoring 24 points.
A combination of poor defense and turnovers hurt Cleveland more than anything. Not only did the Cavs turn the ball over 20 times, Golden State set an NBA record by only coughing the ball up four times the entire game. Cleveland did not record a single steal, which is also a first in the Finals. Cleveland’s defensive effort was lack luster and at times not existent. That, above anything, will have to change if Cleveland hopes to make this a long series.
Along with Durant, Stephen Curry was brilliant on the night. Combined with his 28 points and 10 assists, Curry’s defense was stellar. Not only did he hold Smith to three points for the game, he finished with three steals. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green did little to nothing on the offensive side of the ball, but both were defensive juggernauts. Klay only shot 3 for 16 on the night, but his defense on Irving was terrific(slowing him down in the second half.) Green was everywhere on the floor. From blocking shots, stealing passes, to slowing down a Kevin Love who came into the Finals on fire, shooting nearly 51 percent from beyond the arc, Green’s impact was felt on both ends of the floor.
While it is only one game, Cleveland will need to find a way to slow down Durant and Golden State’s relentless attack. Jame and Irving will get theirs, but the rest of the team will need to find a way to match the Warriors scoring. If the Cavs can slow down Curry and Durant, while keeping Thompson and Green quiet on the offensive side of the ball, Cleveland will make this a long series. However if Klay finds his shooting touch, that has escaped him this entire playoffs, that might spell doom for LeBron and company.
Game 2 will be on Sunday, June 4 at 8 P.M. EST.