Dubs Deliver in Game 1 Victory
Durant Leads All Scorers With 38 Points
The Warriors got their Finals started off on a high note after defeating the Cavaliers 113-91 in Game 1 on Thursday night. Kevin Durant was a force throughout, leading all scorers with 38 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Curry sank six three-pointers on his way to a double-double with 28 points and 10 assists, while Draymond Green added nine points and 11 boards. With the victory, Golden State takes a 1-0 series lead and remains undefeated (13-0) in postseason play. Their current 13-game win streak is tied for the longest in NBA postseason history.
Game 1 marked the first time in NBA history two teams met in the Finals for a third consecutive year. It remained a close battle throughout the first half, but Golden State ran away with it in the second to take a 1-0 series lead.
Both teams may have been affected by the long layoff coming into the series, as they struggled to score out of the gate. J.R. Smith opened the scoring with a three-pointer at the 10:26 mark of the first quarter, after which Zaza Pachulia and Kevin Durant responded with consecutive buckets to jump in front. Kyrie Irving followed his own three-pointer with a layup 41 seconds later to give Cleveland a 12-8 lead with 7:11 remaining in the opening frame, but that would turn out to be their largest advantage of the entire night. After Durant tied the score at 14-14 with an 18-foot jumper, LeBron James began to leave his stamp on the game. He’d go on to score the Cavaliers’ next 10 points to keep pace with the Dubs and knot the score once more at 24 all with 2:34 left in the first quarter. Stephen Curry then broke the deadlock with the first of his six three-pointers in the game, and Golden State would go on to lead for the duration of the contest. After Irving scored with 33 seconds left to pull Cleveland within 32-30, Andre Iguodala sent the Warriors into the break with a five-point advantage after draining a three-pointer at the quarter buzzer.
Slowly, but surely, Golden State built up their lead throughout the second frame. After James scored 15 seconds into the quarter, Iguodala and Ian Clark combined for the next four points to rebuild the Warriors’ advantage to seven, which they’d maintain until both Curry and Durant re-entered the game with 7:26 left in the half. Durant scored 17 seconds later, and would continue to get rolling from there. He’d go on to score Golden State’s next nine points, the last of which gave the Dubs their first double-digit lead of the contest at 49-39 with 4:52 remaining in the second quarter. The Cavaliers would trim three points off that deficit before Durant split free throws with 39 seconds left to send the game into halftime with the Warriors holding a 60-52 lead. In total, Durant would account for 23 points in the half, the most he’d scored in any half this postseason. James paced Cleveland with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but his seven first half turnovers were the second-most he’d committed in a half in his career.
Durant picked up right where he left off, converting a three-pointer 28 seconds into the second half to rebuild a double-digit advantage. Pachulia followed that up with an acrobatic layup, after which Curry scored the next eight points of the game, including back-to-back three-pointers to cap a 13-0 Warriors’ run to open the third quarter. The Cavs wouldn’t go down without a fight, and would close within 80-68 on Irving’s layup with 3:05 left in the frame. That’s as close as they’d get for the rest of the game, however, as Durant responded with four-straight points to ignite a 10-0 Warriors run in response over the next two minutes. Following split free throws from Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green dropped in a three-pointer to match the Warriors’ largest lead of the entire night at 93-69 with 14 seconds remaining in the quarter. Irving would answer back with a three-pointer of his own with three seconds left, but the damage had been done, as Golden State would take a commanding 93-72 lead into the fourth and final frame.
Cleveland proved unable to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, as the two sides alternated scores until Irving and Kevin Love combined for four-straight points to trim the deficit to 102-84 with 4:45 left to play. Durant then put the finishing touches on his terrific night, answering with back-to-back three-pointers before he and the rest of Golden State’s starters subbed out at the 2:15 mark with the game well in hand. Matt Barnes provided the Warriors’ final points of the evening on a three-pointer with 1:17 remaining, as Golden State’s reserves finished off the eventual 113-91 victory. Durant’s 38 points trailed only Shaquille O’Neal’s 41 in 2000 for the most points scored in a Finals game without a turnover in the last 30 years.
With the victory, the Warriors take a 1-0 series lead in the Finals and become the first team in NBA history to start a postseason with a 13-0 record. Golden State's four turnovers were their fewest in a postseason game in franchise history, and tied the NBA record for fewest turnovers in an NBA Finals game. The Warriors will attempt to defend home court once more when they host the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the Finals on Sunday.