Warriors topple LeBron in Game 1 overtime battle

The moment the Bay was waiting for. Stephen Curry vs. LeBron James.

Curry hit a jumper over James after a very Curry-esque spinning fake-out. But Curry’s 26 points were few and far between.

Meanwhile, James unleashed for a 44-point performance in regulation.

In overtime though, it was all Warriors, who kept the Cavaliers scoreless until the last seconds of overtime and won their first Finals game in 40 years, 108-100.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, while reflective and thinking about the things his team can improve on, was living in the moment and enjoying every second:

“This is so much fun.  This is what we all dream of in the NBA, to play in The Finals, to coach in The Finals, to be part of all of this, two great teams.  The crowd was fantastic.  It’s obviously more fun to win than it is to lose.  But to be part of it, to feel it, I think all our players are excited about what’s ahead here in the next couple weeks.”

Midway through the opening quarter, Andre Iguodala caught the ball on the left side of the Warriors basket, a wide open lay-in or dunk available to him. Iguodala passed the ball out to Andrew Bogut who was standing on the 3-point arc instead of taking the easy bucket and the Warriors’ offense deteriorated.

Iguodala told SFBay he had expected Timofey Mozgov to move and in turn Bogut to dive, but after hearing it from his teammate, he knew he couldn’t give up another open look:

“I always listen to what Shaun Livingston has to say and he told me ‘you had a wide open shot.’ So that turned the switch for me. Don’t pass up any more shots.”

Golden State was chaotic, over thinking, unaware.

The Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, went on a 18-2 run and forced Golden State into a uphill battle.

Midway through the second it was Marreese Speights to the rescue before Curry hit a quick-release step-back jumper to tie the game 36-36.

Curry finally found a rhythm, Klay Thompson hit his first shot of the half, and the Warriors climbed back in, only to have J.R. Smith hit a dagger-three to close out the first half, giving the Cavaliers a three-point advantage.

The third quarter went basket-for-basket between the two title contenders, with James breaking the 30-point threshold, until Iguodala threw down a ferocious slam to tie the game 73-73 at the end of the third.

Despite James’ dominating offensive performance, he couldn’t help but stay stuck on the things he missed, his turnovers, and other mishaps:

“I don’t think I was great, I’ve go to do better things out on the floor to help us be more precise offensively. I’ve got to communicate a little bit more defensively to help our team get over the hump.”

With 12 minutes remaining in Game 1, Iguodala seized another moment of redemption, hitting a jumper from distance for a one-point lead then blocked a 3-point attempt from Smith.

Even with Speights and Iguodala playing at a high level, it would take more to stop the freight train of the King. James continued to score at will, hitting his fifteenth field goal to give the Cavs a 86-82 lead with 6:29 left to play.

Another Iguodala three cut the Cavs lead to just one point before Kyrie Irving answered with a trey of his own.

Even with Curry hitting a jumper over James and taking the lead, James came right back with another and another. With less than a minute left, Curry hit a short jumper for a 98-96 lead only to be followed by Mozgov free throws for the 11th tie of the game.

With a chance to go 2-for-1 with 31 seconds left in regulation, the Warriors put the ball in Curry’s hands, and he drove into the paint where he was blocked at the rim by Irving while Smith secured the ball.

With shots failing to sink the game sailed into overtime and stayed scoreless for the first two minutes of the five-minute extra period. That’s when Irving went down, holding his left knee — the same left knee that has been bothering him through the playoffs — and although initial tests showed no new damage, Kyrie said he was worried.

Curry took two trips to the charity stripe hitting all four of his shots for 102-98 lead. Smith missed on the other end and Harrison Barnes hit a corner three to give Golden State its largest lead of the night, only to be added to by Iguodala.

The Warriors kept the Cavs away from any scoring opportunity in the extra frame until James hit a meaningless layup with eight seconds left, tying the fewest a team has scored (2) in overtime of a Finals game in the shot-clock era.

After the game Curry said it took the determination of everybody on the court to secure the win in the final minutes and that if the Warriors play like they did in overtime of Game 1, he feels confident about winning:

“We just forced them into tough shots the whole overtime, and we were able to get stops with that lineup that we had. We were able to push in transition, get to the free-throw line, which got some momentum on our side. It was just a classic five minutes that we needed to get that win.”

The Warriors went up 1-0 against the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and will play Game 2 at home, Sunday, before heading to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4.

Notes

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr became the first coach to win Game 1 of the Finals in his first season as an NBA head coach since Mike Dunleavy and the Lakers defeated the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1991 Finals. … Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Cleveland’s David Blatt were the first head coaches to meet in an NBA Finals in their first season as head coach since 1947 — the league’s first season. … This Game 1 was the first Game 1 of the NBA Finals to be tied entering the fourth quarter since 1959 when the Lakers and Celtics were even at 84 apiece after three quarters. … Stephen Curry scored a team-high 26 points to go with eight assists, giving him a franchise-record 104 assists in a single postseason (previously Rick Barry with 103 in 1975). … LeBron James led all scorers with 44 points which was just nine points shy of the all-time Finals record for points in a Game 1. It was Lebron’s 13th career 40+ playoff scoring game and the first of the 2015 postseason as well as his highest-scoring career Finals game. … Andre Iguodala led all reserves with 15 points in 32 minutes.


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