The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, getting solid help from bench players Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa. The Warriors' bench outscored the Cavs' bench 45-10, dominating on both ends of the floor.
Since the Cavs' bench players were non-factors, their Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love tried to carry the load, scoring a combined 66 points.
The Cavs never established a solid rhythm on offense, and it showed during a play in the second quarter, when Love drove to the basket against Anderson Varejao. Love made a good move, shielding the ball from Varejao. But he slightly nudged him with his arm, sending Varejao to the floor.
Love thought his former teammate had flopped to draw a foul. LeBron James agreed, telling a referee that he knew his former teammmate tried to sell the call. Love drew an offensive foul, and the play halted the Cavs' offense. They were down eight with about a minute left in the first half, and the basket could have boosted their momentum.
Fringe plays like that one, when the Cavs were on the verge of finding rhythm on offense, happened throughout the night. The Cavs started to surge in the third quarter, even taking a one-point lead near the end of the quarter; but they were stymied again when guard Matthew Dellavedova struck Andre Iguodala in the groin. Dellavedova was called for a common foul, then Iguodala hit a 3 to put the Warriors up 74-68 to end the quarter.
The game started to get away from the Cavs in the fourth, but at the beginning of the quarter they were still within reach. Irving drove for a layup at the 10-minute mark, cutting the Warriors' lead to 12.
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The Dellavedova foul was the turning point. If the Cavs have any hope of competing in the series, their offense will need to be more fluid. Their frequent isolation post-ups against the Warriors' stout defense prevented them from getting good shots.
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