Recap: NBA Finals 2018 – Game 1

The 2018 NBA Finals are underway and Golden State Warriors opened the series with a 124-114 overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James played 48 minutes and tallied 51 points, yet it was not enough to lift his team past the defending champs. In a very entertaining game 1, both teams had their fair share of high and lows, including falling behind by double digits then battling back to take the lead. The most impressive salvo was provided by the Warriors who raced out front following a fast start of the 3rd quarter.

Cleveland put on a competitive display of grit but the loaded Golden State roster was just too much to handle. The casual observer might even say that the Cavs gave this one away with a couple of mental errors late in regulation. From the opening tip, neither team backed down, racing up and down the court keeping the opponent within arms reach throughout the first quarter. A scary moment brought the crowd to silence as J.R. Smith slid into the lower body of Klay Thompson, twisting his knee and ankle as he went to the ground awkwardly. Thompson would return minutes later and play 45 total minutes, including overtime. The Cavaliers cranked up the energy after the injury timeout and pulled away for a lead midway through the 2nd quarter but saw it erased by halftime as the teams headed to the locker room tied at 56-56.

In true Warriors fashion, the home team built a six point lead that they’d take into the 4th quarter but could not fight off a surge by the Cavaliers who erased the deficit during the end of regulation to tie the score at 107-107. This game very well could have been over at the buzzer but 2 mental lapses cost the Cavs game one and their best chance at any mental advantage in the series. First, with less than five seconds on the clock, James headed to the line to shoot two free throws. Trailing 107-106, making both free throws essential seals the win for Cleveland. However, after tying the score on his first shot, James inexplicably misses the 2nd shoot (lapse 1). Smith enters the lane to rebound the missed shot but instead taking a shot at the basket, he dribbles out to the three point line to clear the ball and run out the clock (lapse 2). The problem dear friends? The score was TIED! Somehow unaware of the current score, Smith forfeited any opportunity to win in regulation because he thought the Cavs had taken the lead on the made free throw. {This is not J.R.’s first time doing this and the internet is letting him have it.}

Regulation expires and overtime appeared to be a bit too much for the Cavaliers. Golden State jumped out to a 114-107 lead and Cleveland never threatened in the extra period. Despite an impressive outing for James and quality support from Kevin Love (21 pts, 13 rebs) and Larry Nance, Jr. (9 pts, 11 rebs), the Cavs could not match the waves of shooters supplied by the Warriors depth. Kevin Durant put up 26 (slow night again), Stephen Curry added 29, Thompson gave 24, Draymond Green chipped in 13, and Shaun Livingston had 10, all aided by quality rebounding and ball movement from Kevon Looney. All so worth mentioning, JaVale McGee missed another dunk!

Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday, June 3rd at 7 PM and will played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

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