The Golden State Warriors asserted their dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, handing Cleveland its first road loss of the playoffs with a 113-91 result.
Kevin Durant lit up the highlight reel in his first Finals appearance with Golden State, dropping 38 points on 14-26 shooting to go with eight assists and eight rebounds.
It seems safe to say Durant claimed the first victory in his highly-anticipated matchup with LeBron James, who managed 28 points over 40 minutes of play and finished with minus-22 in efficiency.
Stephen Curry did his part on the offensive end as well, racking up 28 points and 10 assists on the night, including six made threes for a 54.5 percent success rate from distance.
While Curry and Durant ran the offense, it was the collective defensive effort that sealed the deal for Golden State in Game 1. Klay Thompson proved that no shooting slump can eliminate his value, playing a large defensive role that helped the Warriors hold Cleveland to 34.9 percent shooting on the night. Thompson finished plus-8 in efficiency despite earning just six points on 18.8 percent shooting.
Zaza Pachulia, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green held down the fort inside, allowing just 30 of Cleveland’s 91 points in the paint and sparking 20 turnovers. Golden State earned 21 points off turnovers as a result.
The Warriors, who usually suffer from turnover troubles, only committed four turnovers throughout the game. That allowed Golden State to set an NBA Finals record with an astounding 31-4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
When the Warriors are firing on all cylinders like they were Thursday night, it’s difficult to imagine any team overcoming such a talented force, even a team with King James on the roster.
And that’s the reality for this Warrior unit: the only group that can stop the Warriors from avenging their 2016 Finals failure is themselves.
The challenge for Golden State going forward will be to maintain the fiery pace they brought to Game 1 against the Cavs, both at home and on the road. During last year’s Finals, the Warriors dominated the Cavs in the first two games in Oakland, but suffered back-to-back double-digit losses when they traveled to Quicken Loans Arena for Game 3 and Game 4.
James and the Cavs will be looking for every opportunity to capitalize on any lapse in Golden State’s play, but if the Warriors can keep their foot on the gas, they have the ability to end this series in as few as four games.
Game 2 between the Warriors and the Cavaliers will tip off Sunday night at 5 p.m. PT at Oracle Arena.
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