We had to wait a week for the start of the 2017 NBA Finals, but boy was it worth it.
In a highlight-filled Game 1, the Warriors broke away from the Cavaliers in the third quarter and finished off a 113-91 victory in Oakland on Thursday night, improving to 13-0 in this year's playoffs.
Golden State outplayed the Cavs in the first half, but only led by eight entering the third quarter. However, Stephen Curry caught fire as the Warriors scored the first 13 points of the second half to blow things open. The Cavs struggled to keep pace offensively, and failed to launch any serious comeback attempt for the rest of the night.
Kevin Durant was simply unstoppable in his first Finals game since losing to the Heat in 2012 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, including a. Meanwhile, Curry, his partner in crime, scored 28 points on 6-of-11 3-pointers to go along with a game-high 10 assists.
The Cavs were led by LeBron James, who had 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, but also committed eight turnovers. Kyrie Irving had 24 points for the Cavs, while Kevin Love finished with 15 points and 21 rebounds.
Turnovers were one of the keys to the game, as the Cavs committed 20, compared to just four from the Warriors.
Game 2 in Oakland is scheduled for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, and the Cavs have some serious adjustments to make if they want to make the series competitive. Here are some takeaways from Game 1.
Oh yeah, the Warriors have Kevin Durant
It was probably some point between Durant going coast to coast for an uncontested dunk and Steph Curry using an inside-out escape dribble and knocking down a pull-up 3-pointer from the wing that it dawned on us: Woah, the Warriors have Curry AND Durant. Not that we didn't know it before, but to actually see them both at their best, in the NBA Finals … it was pretty breathtaking. It's just Game 1 so it would be wise not to overreact, but it's going to take some serious adjustments from the Cavs to make Game 2 competitive if Durant and Curry continue to play like this.
Turnovers -- and we're not talking breakfast pastries
You're not going to beat the Warriors very often when you turn the ball over 20 times – especially when Golden State only has four. The Cavs were sloppy and didn't do a good enough job pressuring the Warriors' ball-handlers and getting in the passing lane. The four turnovers tied the record for the fewest from a team in NBA Finals history, while the turnover margin was the largest in the last 30 Finals. It's not good when LeBron by himself has twice as many turnovers as the other team.
The magical disappearing bench
Coming into the game, the Cavs' bench had the largest net rating of any other bench in the playoffs at plus-9.8. On Thursday the bench scored 21 points, but seven of those came from Dahntay Jones in garbage time. Overall, the bench was a non-factor, with in-season acquisitions Kyle Korver and Deron Williams each going scoreless in a combined 39 minutes. The Cavs simply won't be able to win if they don't get more production from the bench.
Jump-shooting team, you say?
The knock on the Warriors has always been, "jump-shooting teams can't win in the playoffs." On Thursday, however, the Warriors weren't a jump-shooting team. While they made 12 3-pointers to the Cavs' 11, Golden State outscored Cleveland 56-30 in the paint. The Warriors were getting whatever they wanted inside and in transition. Tristan Thompson was held scoreless with only four rebounds, while Zaza Pachulia scored eight and pulled down six boards. That's a matchup the Cavs have to win if they're going to make this a series.