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Warriors Rout Cavaliers in Game One

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Kevin Durant led the way in the Warriors win to open the Finals.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a flurry of turnovers and multiple second opportunities for the Warriors, the Cavaliers found themselves trailing at halftime of game one by a manageable eight points. A 10-0 run out of the break by the Warriors ended that, and set the course for a second half in which the Warriors cruised after opening a 20+ point lead, finally winning 113-98.

Kevin Durant absolutely dominated throughout, finishing with 38-8-8. He got started early in the paint, and got several laughably easy dunks in transition when the Cavs were so concerned with the three-point shooters that they left wind open lanes to the basket. He found his perimeter stroke in the second half, as did Stephen Curry, who was a big factor in breaking open the game in the third quarter, when he scored 14 of his 28 points.

It was turnovers that were the Cavaliers most glaring problem. They lost that battle an amazing 20-4, and they simply cannot overcome that sort of disparity. While they deserve their share of blame for those turnovers, the Warriors length and activity played a big role as well, and they deserve credit for a defense that held the Cavs to 35 percent from the field along with those turnovers. They did a particularly excellent job keeping LeBron James in front and then playing him for the pass. As a result James, who in many ways was his usual excellent self, finished with eight turnovers.

Going forward, it’s a question of whether the Cavs can find enough defense. Despite a relatively poor shooting night for the Warriors, and a remarkable number of missed layups, it was not a good display at that end by the Cavs. They were fortunate that Klay Thompson’s shooting slump continues, but the Warriors had a ton of great looks. It’s a tough spot for the Cavs, because two of their best offensive players have difficulty defensively, especially against Golden State. The Warriors looked to involve Kyrie Irving in pick and roll often, and it led to lots of open looks and switches that left him guarding a much bigger player. And Kevin Love has his struggles, especially when the Warriors don’t have a center in the game.

It was just one game, and of course the Warriors dominated the first two games last year before the Cavs found their footing and roared back to win. So no hot takes needed. It was another dominant performance by the best team in the league. Can Cleveland respond?

NOTES

  • It’s hard to remember Tristan Thompson being such a non-factor. 22 minutes, zero points, four boards.
  • The Warriors got up 106 shots, and had more assists than the Cavs had field goals. That pace won’t work for the Cavs. They have to slow the game down.
  • The Cavs got three points in 67 minutes from J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, and Deron Williams. Much like Thompson, Smith just never engaged in the game, something the Cavs cannot afford.
  • Two days off. Next game is Sunday.