2015 NBA Finals: Game 1 Observations
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Game 1 of this year’s NBA Finals started off flat with the Golden State Warriors shooting poorly from the field while the Cleveland Cavaliers riding on the back of LeBron James as they took an early lead. However, after the Warriors’ second unit kept them in the game and got them the lead by the second quarter, this was more of the matchup NBA fans were dying to see.
Here are just some observations from Game 1.
Kyrie Irving was spectacular in his first NBA Finals appearance finishing with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Not only was his production important but his mere presence and play eased the load that LeBron James had to carry in the offensive end. Kyrie’s slick handle and offensive artistry made it difficult for his defenders to neutralize and contain him—with his play giving LeBron a little more breathing room when going to the bench. After a game-saving block on Stephen Curry in the 4th quarter of the game, Irving would go down with two minutes left in overtime after a knee-on-knee collision with Klay Thompson.
Uncle Drew played exceptionally well for the Cavs—even better than what most people expected from him—and this injury could cripple the Cavs even more down the line. His injury was dubbed an X-Factor for this series especially after we have seen what he can do to help this Cavs team go all the way. If Irving does miss a considerable amount of time, this series will be over quickly.
The Warriors stuck with their defensive game plan through the course of the game as they decided to play LeBron James one-on-one without sending any double team. LeBron torched the Warriors with his array of back to the basket moves and finishes around the paint but it wasn’t enough to help his team’s cause.
LeBron was dominant—yes—but his outside shot wasn’t as consistent as needed to be to keep the Warriors’ defense honest. Even if he scored 44 points, a Finals career-high, he did it shooting 18/38—not exactly the efficiency accustomed from him. Everyone has praised LeBron’s aggressiveness—especially these past several games—but now he needs to be more efficient and productive with the amount of shots he takes. LeBron was good this game but he needs to be better if the Cavs want a chance to compete with the Warriors.
After two minutes have elapsed in overtime, Steve Kerr unleashed his deadly small-ball lineup with Draymond Green playing center surrounded by Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and the MVP Stephen Curry. In a series where a lot expected both teams to go small, both teams stuck with their ‘bigger’ lineups. The Warriors had to stay big to try to neutralize Tristan Thompson’s rebounding while the Cavs needed to stay big to try to continue attacking the offensive glass.
The last three minutes of the game was where the Warriors got their separation and it highlighted the fact how close this series is—that one move can alter the course of the game and make it winnable.
This is only a brief assessment of what had transpired in Game 1 and more will follow in the coming days. At the end, this was a winnable game on the Cavs part and in my opinion, it was a game they lost instead of a game the Warriors won.