Defense fails Cavs in 113-91 Game 1 loss in NBA Finals

Hope Soto
June 3, 2017

He can't change the score, replay those final minutes, pretend he was healthy when his movement was visibly hampered. Once during the first quarter, Durant toppled James as he blew by him, then drove in for a dunk.

Kerr hasn't coached Golden State - 12-0 heading into its third straight Finals against LeBron James and the Cavs - since Game 2 of the first round against Portland.

The Warriors meet with the media following their Game 1 triumph.

No one said it's easy to guard Golden State.

Mike Brown expects to coach the Golden State Warriors as planned in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "That's one of the things that we need, a guy who can go get a bucket, get to the foul line".

Durant was all around the rim.

The former National Basketball Association star-turned TNT analyst posted on his verified Twitter account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, "America meet Javale "BUM" McGee". And yet, with the addition of Durant, James and Irving will have to take their games to another level in order to defend their title.

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The Warriors set the tone in the first half and never relented. Whether they can handle Durant, in addition to his three starry wingmen, is a separate matter. They gave the Cavaliers only six points off the four turnovers, while scoring 21 points off 20 Cleveland giveaways. That helped them get up early, gain some confidence, and they didn't look back. Late in the first half, the Warriors built a 10-point lead despite missing 15 (!) shots within a couple of feet of the basket.

James, who called Golden State both a "juggernaut" and a "beast" while crowing the Warriors as the best team in the league over the last three seasons on two separate occasions prior to the Finals - despite Cleveland beating them for the championship last season, of course - was more genuine in his praise, starting with appreciation for Kevin Durant's 38 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the opener. Cleveland averaged 116.8 points, shot 50.7 percent and held the Pacers, Raptors and Celtics to 87 field-goal attempts per game in the first three rounds. That's when the Warriors get very risky, when they sprint down the lane, put the pressure on your defense. One particularly telling stat is that they had just four turnovers to Cleveland's 20; there are other similarly gaudy numbers, all of which feel very demoralizing to anyone hoping for a narrative other than the boring, predictable dominance of the Warriors here. Once they chose to stop being so coy around the rim, Golden State pulled away.

The Warriors' somewhat underrated defense is a big reason for that. It's Klay Thompson being able to detonate in a quarter for 30 points, winning a game on his perfectly-formed shooting motion.

Cleveland turned the ball over 20 times.

When the Warriors imported Kevin Durant in the offseason after falling one game short of repeating as National Basketball Association champs, most observers across the sports landscape made them the favorites.

Many of Durant's clear-path dunks came thanks in part to teammate Stephen Curry whose hot perimeter shooting early on had Cavaliers defenders attached to him in transition, leaving an open lane to the hoop for Durant. The Cavs have to do a much better job of that the rest of the series. You looked into the crowd toward Rihanna ... was that on goal or do you remember that?

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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