Kevin Durant dominates as Golden State Warriors draw first blood against Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals


OAKLAND — The negative narrative will always be Kevin Durant joined Golden State to participating in a slew of all-stars to help pave the way to his first NBA title.

But in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, Durant showed no signs of letting anyone else do the earning for him.

With the Cavs hell bent on guarding the three point line, Durant, particularly in the first half, took full advantage in the paint hitting runners, converting lobs and hammering home far too many uncontested dunks at the rim for any Cleveland fans’ liking as the Warriors set the tone in an 113-90 win in Game 1.

“We talked about it before the match and Steve (Kerr) suggested we try and get the ball in (Durant’s) hands right away and put him in a position where he can attack downhill,” interim head coach Mike Brown said. “So we tried to do that early on, and K.D. didn’t settle. When he had an opportunity, he went downhill, and it worked out well.”

‘Worked out well’ might be the first understatement of the series. Durant was all but unstoppable those first 24 minutes.
Durant put up 23 points, six assists, and four rebounds in his stellar first half on his way to his 38-point night.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
He’s still three wins away from that elusive first title, but if the Warriors get it and he continues to play at this kind of level, it’s going to be very hard for the Durant detractors to suggest he didn’t do his part to earn it.

But this was far from a one-man show. Durant may have been the leader, but he had plenty of help, too.

Steph Curry, who was rather quiet (for him) through the first 24 minutes came out in the third and got his game going with 14 points in the third quarter alone to stretch an eight-point Warriors lead to 21 after three-quarters.

Curry wound up with 28 points and ten assists on the night.

“The best thing about tonight, of course, was just our defensive presence and effort for 48 minutes,” Curry said ignoring the big numbers both he and Durant put up.

“They’re going to make tough shots; they’re a talented team, they have two of the best scorers in the league, so you got just to keep pressing, sticking to the game plan, but focus what’s in front of you. Win one game. Now we look to Sunday to try to redo it. We have been here before and know there’s a lot of work left to do.”

The Cavs’ LeBron James had his strong night with 19 of his own in the first 24 minutes, but where James had just one other scorer in the Cavs lineup supporting him offensively in Kyrie Irving, Durant had Curry and a much stronger bench on their side.

James wound up with 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in a statistically elegant evening of play that you know James won’t be celebrating.

On top of that fatal two-pronged attack of Durant and Curry, the Warriors were ultra protective of the rock throughout the evening. In the first half alone they turned the ball over just once while their superior defense forced 12 first-half turnovers on the Cavaliers.

By night’s end, the Cavs turnover total was up to 20, the Warriors a Finals-record tying low of four.

It all added up to an entertaining but not unexpected Game 1 result.

The surprise may have been how dominant Durant was in his first Finals game with the Warriors.

He was a solid 10-for-18 in the first half finishing up 14-for-26 for 38 points along with eight assists and eight rebounds.

“This is where every player wants to be, at the highest level of basketball,” Durant said. “That’s what you dream about as a kid is to play at the highest level. I just tried to stay locked in and at the same time have some fun with it.”

The Cavs were successful in limiting the Warriors three-point game holding them to just 10-for-30 from behind the arc but losing the turnover battle by such a large margin made this one almost impossible to win for the Cavs.

Klay Thompson was single-handedly responsible for five of those misses as his playoff struggles continued with another terrible night shooting as he was just 3-for-16 from the field for six points.

Thompson though was healthy on the other end as were all the Warriors on the evening.

The four turnovers by the Warriors tied the NBA Finals mark for fewest in a game done twice before last night by San Antonio in 2013 and Detroit in 2005.

Durant though was the story setting the first tone and then finishing up with a solid fourth quarter with a team-high eight in the final frame to quash any thoughts of a Cleveland comeback.

The Cavs just never seemed comfortable in this one beyond the opening seven or eight minutes.

The end though came early in the third on a 13-0 run that quickly turned an eight-point deficit into a 21-point death blow.

“That’s something we have to limit going forward,” Irving said afterward. “When you are playing against a dangerous team like we are playing for the Warriors, and they have great pieces, just got to stay disciplined, understand that every possession is all out.”

Once the Warriors determined the Cavs were going to protect the three point line at all costs it just meant open looks inside for Durant.

When the Cavs tried to adjust in the third, the ball just found its way back outside to Curry and Durant, and both torched them from behind the three point line with a combined five in the frame.

The lead got as big as 24 but was in double digits during the early portion of the third quarter and never did get back below 12.

If there is a bright spot for the Cavs, it is that rarely do James’ teams start out the Finals with a win. In fact, last night’s loss marked seven losses in the eight Finals openers of which he’s been a participant.

The two teams will now have two days off to digest this one before Game 2 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ED here in Oakland.


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