Just as many expected, Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference finals went to the Golden State Warriors.
No one, however, could have predicted it to play out the way it did. The San Antonio Spurs were cruising early on, as Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge powered them to a 14-point lead after the first quarter, and a 20-point lead at halftime. Try as they might, the Warriors just couldn't get into the game.
That is, untilin the third quarter. The Spurs' star rolled his ankle twice in the span of a few minutes, and had to leave the game for good, leading to an 18-0 run by the Warriors which got them right back into the game.
Behind big second halves from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the Warriors found a way to pull out the victory, winning 113-111 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Here are a couple of key takeaways from Sunday's eventful Game 1:
Kawhi Leonard's ankle a concern
Obviously, this is the biggest takeaway from Game 1. Leonard was fantastic before he had to leave the game, scoring 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting in just 24 minutes. And that doesn't even take into account his work on the defensive end. With him, the Spurs were cruising, up 25 at one point in the second quarter, and still up 23 a few minutes into the third quarter.
After he left the game, the Warriors immediately went on a massive run, and eventually found a way to pull out the 113-111 victory.
Now, there are two questions. First, can Leonard come back in the series? We saw how the Spurs looked in the second half without Leonard in the game, and it's pretty fair to say they have absolutely no chance of taking four out of six from the Warriors without him.
Secondly, if he does return, how effective will he be? It's hard to imagine Leonard will be back to 100 percent at any point in this series, as he's now sprained that left ankle multiple times in the span of a few days. Should he return -- whether that's in Game 2, or later on in the series -- how much can he give the Spurs? They rely on him extensively on both ends of the court, and while no Kawhi is better than nothing, his effectiveness will go a long way toward determining how well the Spurs can compete moving forward.
Kevin Durant and Steph Curry earn their money
Curry and Durant are the Warriors' two best players, and they stepped up in Game 1 to help the Warriors get the victory, combining for 74 points, with Curry leading all scorers with 40, and Durant going for 34. Of the 39 field goals the Dubs made on the afternoon, those two converted 25 of them, and no other Warrior made more than four field goals -- and that was Zaza Pachulia.
More importantly, those two delivered when it mattered most, with Curry scoring 26 of his 40 in the second half, while Durant had 20 of his 34 over the final two quarters. Furthermore, Curry scored seven points over the final 1:47 of regulation, including a 3-pointer to tie the game at 106-106, and a runner to put them up 113-110 with just nine seconds to go.
Leonard's absence made their life easier, but it was still an impressive afternoon from Curry and Durant.