Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers just forgot Kevin Durant was on the floor. After all, the last two years they didn’t have to worry about Durant when they faced the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, with the eight-time All-Star nothing more than a spectator after his Oklahoma City teams were eliminated.
How else to explain the fact that Durant was more wide open than Draymond Green’s mouth during most of Thursday’s Game 1? The result was exactly what Durant envisioned when he left Oklahoma City 11 months ago, a juggernaut offense taking down the Cavs in the Finals.
The Warriors’ 113-91 dismantling of the Cavaliers showed exactly how dangerous they have become with Durant. Sure, Durant scored 38 points, shot 14 of 26 and his six dunks reminded us all just how bad the Cavaliers’ defense was late in the season, but this is why the Warriors will be so hard to beat. …
With four All-Stars, even if two have checked out offensively, as Klay Thompson and Green did in Game 1, combining for 15 points and 22 missed shots, the Warriors always will have two players ready to take over. In Game 1, Stephen Curry was that other guy with 28 points.
The Cavaliers’ treatment of Durant was baffling, appearing more concerned with the 3-point shooters as he would race down the court with the ball. Durant had six dunks in the first half, five in transition. Of course, Cleveland’s transition defense was the second worst in the league this year, so …
The one play that was a microcosm of this game occurred in the first half when Durant grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball — all the while his eyes on Curry on the left side hoping LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would bite. Both did and suddenly the middle of the court was wide open and Durant went in for another uncontested dunk.
Just as he envisioned.
Another disappointing Game 1 for LeBron: LeBron James has been to eight Finals, and seven times his teams have lost Game 1. And the only win was in 2011, his first Finals game as a member of the Heat. Miami went on to lose that series to Dallas in six games. James’s 28 points and 15 rebounds did not tell the entire story. His defense on Durant was atrocious and he had eight of Cleveland’s 20 turnovers, the third most by an individual in Finals history. Clearly frustrated, James is going to need a lot more help than Irving scoring 24 points if Cleveland is going to avoid being embarrassed in this series.
Hey Cleveland, you’re not in the East anymore: The Cavaliers blew through the Eastern Conference during the playoffs, going 12-1 on the way to their third straight trip to the Finals. But the Cavaliers are no longer facing the weaker teams from the East and it showed. 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. In Game 1, Cleveland scored 91 points, shot 35.5 percent and the Warriors took an astounding 106 shots. Welcome to the big leagues.