Game 1 of the NBA 2016 Playoff Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers ended predictably – a comfortably win for the Warriors, who were playing at home. The highlights though, are unlikely to feature any of Warriors’ usual suspects.
Going into the finals, Cavaliers and James made a big deal of how the team had all the key players fit and had gelled better as a team this season than the last (when they lost to the Warriors in the finals). However, the same could also be said of the Warriors and the NBA’s record-breaking team continued it’s unstoppable dominance, using it’s bench strength to comfortably pick apart the Cavs in a 104-89 win.
Curry and Thompson combined for just 20 points in the win, as Shaun Livingston came off the bench and scored 20 points in a virtuoso performance, ably supported by Andre Iguodala (12) and Leandro Barbosa (11) while of the regular starters, Draymond Green led the pack with 16.
For the Cavs, the best efforts of LeBron James (a near triple-double of 23 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists) and Kyrie Irving (26 points, four assists) were wasted when the rest of the team, and critically their bench, couldn’t get going.
Here are the highlights from the game:
Despite the deflated nature of the Cavaliers’ performance, there was the now-usual ‘manhandling’ incident with Matthew Delladova the culprit, this time fouling Andre Iguodala by slapping him in the crotch.
The play was reviewed and called as a common foul. Iguodala hit a three the very next play, so there’s little to suggest Delladova’s overhand tactics were successful.
The Warriors cruising to a win was clearly not enough for coach Steve Kerr, who smashed his whiteboard in anger on the sidelines during the game.
Cleveland put down the loss to a poor fourth quarter but if Game 1 is any indication, it doesn’t matter if they keep up a tight game throughout – as long they are competing with the Warriors in a shootout, they will lose.
The Cavs need to make their size advantage count, and stop the Warriors from running their shooting game. And if the best response is a crotch-shot, this could be over by next Friday.
Game 2 is on Sunday night, and James and co need to think of something new fast.