The game was easily the best one we’ve seen this postseason, featuring an epic performance from The King and a late game surge from the other team's MVP. To recap its awesomeness, we've listed down the main story lines that unfolded earlier today at the Oracle Arena so we can enjoy the brilliance of the Dubs and LeBron James' opening show one more time.
LEBRON A.K.A. ANG HALIMAW SA COURT
LBJ scored 44 points on 18-of-38 shooting, a Finals career-high. Intent on stealing the series-opener, he brought his whole offensive arsenal as he scored inside and out. Floaters, hook shots, long twos, long threes—he was nailing everything. His “I’ll take over” look made Warriors fans from all over the globe nervous every time he held the ball. And for much of the game, it truly looked like he would be able to beat the Western Conference champs single-handedly. In the end though, the Dubs’ collective effort was just too much even for the scariest beast in all of basketball.
While he did miss a potential game-winner in the waning moments of regulation, the fact is that his 44-point explosion was still amazing to behold.
THE CAVS' TOWERS OF POWER, MOZGOV AND THOMPSON
Cleveland’s bigs Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov clogged the paint for a combined 22 boards and 18 big-time points—16 of which from the surprisingly agile Timofey. Their high activity rate inside complimented an aggressive LeBron, as they always were in the right place (Thompson, especially) to either get a 50-50 ball or score in case a drop-off pass comes.
Mozgov was huge, literally and figuratively, as he threw down some nasty dunks off of some nice cuts and even drained the free throws that sent the game to overtime. Mozgov also could have given his team the lead in the final moments with a baby hook in the middle—which, unfortunately for Cavs fans, was called a travel.
KYRIE IRVING WAS GREAT UNTIL HIS KNEE LASTED
Kyrie had an excellent across-the-board stat line: 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks. There were a lot of questions regarding Kyrie’s knee situation coming into the Finals and he almost squashed them all as he played outstandingly through four quarters. He even blocked the reigning MVP’s shot twice, one of which was a game-saving swat in the dying seconds of regulation.
But as Klay Thompson guarded him in the extra period, Irving slipped and reinjured himself. He went into the locker room and never returned. Kyrie going down like that was the only thing that we didn’t love from Game 1. His matchup with the MVP was becoming intriguing until his knees took it away from us. Damn you, knees!
THE KING GETS NO SUPPORT FROM SMITH AND SHUMPERT
Except for Kyrie, Cleveland’s backcourt was awful. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, who were both excellent in the Eastern Conference Finals, sucked today.
Iman scored just six points on six attempts while J.R. shot 3-out-of-13 to score nine points. LeBron will always produce monster numbers but if Shumpert and Smith continue to play as if they’re still with the New York Knicks the Cavs have no chance!
THE MVP COMES UP BIG
Stephen Curry didn’t have the impressive numbers that LeBron produced but he came through in the clutch. He had 26 points and eight assists. Not bad by any stretch but modest compared to LeBron’s outburst. But when the Warriors needed their captain the most, Curry came through. Just when LeBron was trying to impose his will on Golden State in the fourth, Steph sank a long two to give his team a much-needed two-point lead midway through the quarter.
In OT, he scored the first four points, effectively putting his team in a winning position. Our final rating? Chef Curry gets four spoons out of five in his Finals debut!
GOLDEN STATE'S TEAM EFFORT SHINES THROUGH
Cleveland led by 10 points after the first quarter, where Golden State was outrebounded and simply outplayed. Yet pressing the panic button never became an option. They stuck to moving the ball, and eventually found their rhythm; by the second quarter, Chef Curry had his team cooking.
Curry went into one of those zones where he could hit ridiculous threes; Draymond Green went in for a crowd-awakening slam; and everyone including the bench played hard-nosed defense. As the first half came to a close, GSW had the rebounding edge, 24-22, and shrunk Cleveland’s lead down to three, 48-51.
It was a sign of things to come. Fast forward to the extra period, it was again Golden State’s team defense and cold-blooded offense from Curry and Harrison Barnes that came to the forefront as Cleveland only managed two meaningless points.
Special mention also goes out to Klay Thompson, who put up a quiet 21 points, the team’s second-best scoring output. He also sank timely jumpers when Cleveland was attempting to break the game wide open or encroaching on their lead.
GETTING IGGY WITH IT
Andre Iguodala had the unenviable task of guarding LeBron. Most of the time, LeBron scored on him quite easily. But when it came down to the most important possessions, Golden State got their money’s worth as Iggy stopped the King.
Iguodala was the X-factor in this game, bringing bottomless energy and toughness, which paid dividends in the clutch. His great overall game can be summed up by two big plays against LBJ that came as the first and second quarters were coming to an end. In the first one, he danced circles around LBJ as he went for a two-handed jam. He then finished a breakaway slam right after he stole the ball away from 'Bron as the first half came to an end. Don't forget about this guy, Cleveland.
KLAY AND DRAYMOND BATTLED HARD
The other Splash Brother and Draymond “Boy Intense” Green, didn’t have a good shooting night, but they never relented playing hard. In the end, Klay's jumpers and Draymond’s inside game clicked at the right time, when they were catching up in the second quarter, and during the all-crucial fourth quarter and overtime period.
BARNES HIT THE DAGGER
Barnes shot 3-out-of-5 from long distance. And one of his three three-pointers was one of the most important shots for Golden State: a dagger-three from the corner with just a little more than two minutes to go in overtime, giving the Dubs a seven-point lead.
Watch that pivotal three plus other game highlights here:
THE RETURN OF MARESSE SPEIGHTS