2017 NBA Finals
2017 NBA Finals

The Finals Stat: Game 1 -- Turnovers make a difference

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Jun 2, 2017 12:24 AM ET

The Cavaliers' turnover woes proved to be their undoing in Game 1 of The Finals.

OAKLAND –The Golden State Warriors remained perfect in the 2017 playoffs, improving to 13-0 with a 113-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of The Finals. After a competitive first quarter, the Warriors took control in the second and then opened the game up with a 13-0 run to start the third.

Kevin Durant led the way with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Stephen Curry added 28, six and 10. Klay Thompson continued to shoot poorly, but made big contributions on the other side of the floor.

One stat stood out as the Warriors took a 1-0 Finals lead for the third straight year.

Game 1 basics

Pace: 102.5 possessions per team per 48 minutes

CLEVELAND

  • OffRtg: 88.2 points scored per 100 possessions
  • eFG%: 41.3%
  • FTA/FGA: 0.291
  • TO%: 19.6%
  • OREB%: 29.4%

GOLDEN STATE

  • OffRtg: 109.7 points scored per 100 possessions
  • eFG%: 48.1%
  • FTA/FGA: 0.151
  • TO%: 3.9%
  • OREB%: 24.1%

eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained

The stat

16 -- Turnover differential in Game 1.

The context

Cleveland's 20 turnovers were tied for the most they've committed in 55 playoff games over the last three years. Golden State's four turnovers were tied for the least in Finals history, and the fewest they've ever committed in any game (regular season or playoffs) since turnovers started being counted in 1977. That's 3,354 games of Warriors basketball.

Neither team shot particularly well in Game 1. Coming into the series, they had the two highest effective field goal percentage marks in postseason history: 59.8 percent for Cleveland, 57.3 percent for Golden State. And on Thursday, they both effectively shot under 50 percent.

But the Warriors got 20 more shots than the Cavs, mostly because of the turnover differential. After committing just two turnovers in the first quarter, Cleveland committed 10 in the second and another four on their first eight possessions of the third as Golden State built a 21-point lead.

And it wasn't just about the shots the Cavs didn't get. Of their 20 turnovers, 11 were live balls (Golden State steals), giving the Warriors transition opportunities. Golden State scored 17 points off of those 11 live-ball turnovers, a rate of 1.55 points per possession. They scored 1.10 points per possession otherwise.

That would still have been good enough to win Game 1, because the Warriors' defense was good on both dead balls and live balls. It helped that none of their four turnovers were live, but Golden State has been the better defensive team from start to finish this year (they ranked second in defensive efficiency in the regular season and first through the first three rounds) and showed how on Thursday.

The Warriors may never take care of the ball as well as they did in Game 1, but they can keep forcing the Cavs into mistakes with their length and activity.

More numbers

The Finals: Traditional | Advanced | 4 factors | Players | Player shooting | Lineups

Warriors playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Players | Player shooting | Lineups

Cavs playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Players | Player shooting | Lineups

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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