OAKLAND– No one expected how intense Game 1 of the NBA Finals would be. The two best teams in the league met again for the fourth straight time. The historic reunion seemed more like a brawl than a NBA game. King of the East, LeBron James had a Finals career-high 51 points 8 rebounds and 8 assists. But that was not enough to withstand the Warriors 124-114 victory in overtime over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After the game James said, “We’re in for a fight now, the Finals have started and they got a great taste of it tonight.”
James was 2 points shy of Jerry West, who scored 53 points in the 1969 Finals and Michael Jordan who scored 55 in the 1993 Finals. However, James did join the royal NBA family to became part of six players (including himself) to have ever made it halfway to 100 points in a single NBA Finals game.
The brawl began with Klay Thompson getting escorted to the locker room with a left leg contusion in the first quarter, he later returned to the court by the second. That same injury has kept Andre Iguodala out of most of the playoffs. James’ waltzed his way to his 51 points largely due to Iguodala’s absence. Crowned the defensive King against James in the Finals proves to be challenging without him.
Midway through the second quarter, the Warriors took advantage of James’ time on the bench. The Fantastic 4 checked back in the game, Thompson, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant brought their 11 point deficit to tie the ballgame to end the first half. Credit Curry for his 3-point buzzer beater to end the period.
His dagger was capped off by a hand jester counting 1, 2, and 3 before he stuck out his tongue to the roaring crowd at Oracle Arena. This is what the Warriors fans paid for! However, the momentum of the game shifted with 36.4 seconds left in the 4th quarter.
A charge called on Durant was overturned after an official review. The call was changed to a blocking foul that sent Durant to the line and put the Warriors up by 1. James drove down the court, bodied his way over Green for an easy two points. That play put the Cavs up by 1. Curry answered back with a layup and got the foul on the finish.
After making his free throw, he put the Warriors up back by 1 point. Thompson fouled George Hill sending him to the free throw line possibly putting the Warriors in jeopardy. Hill missed his second free throw, Smith rebounded the ball and rushed to the perimeter to pass to Hill to get off a shot as the clock ran out.
Smith didn’t realize the game was tied and time had run out. He clearly had enough time to take a shot or pass the ball instead of dribbling toward the perimeter. The Warriors took advantage of the shock and disappointment from Cleveland in overtime to seal their victory.
After the game Smith explained why he ran with the ball instead of taking the shot during the last 4.7 seconds of the 4th quarter,
“I knew we were tied, I just thought we were going to call a timeout because I got the rebound,” adding, “I saw Durant standing right next to me. He already had 4 blocks and I wasn’t about to be the 5th.”
Coach Tyronn Lue of the Cavs said, “He (Smith) thought we were up 1.”