Curry, Durant Lead in Scoring, But Others Power Game 1 Punch

In the soon-to-be-immortal words of California poet laureate K.W. Durant, "If you don't like it, don't watch."
That might not necessarily sit well with you, especially if your team had the 90 in Golden State's 113-91 Game 1 NBA Finals win, but the Warriors treated the Cleveland Cavaliers to the same targeted dope-slappage that they had delivered to the Portlands, Utahs and San Antonii. They sucked the drama out of the evening swiftly, and the entertainment value somewhat later, and like most of the 12 wins before this, they played the fourth quarter mostly because ABC sold the ad time and didn't have the National Spelling Bee rights.
Worse yet for those defenders of the mythical status quo of roster construction, Durant was the most obvious of the Warriors (38/8/8/plus-16 in 37:33). His was the most notable box score line in a game that had four of them:
Stephen Curry: 28/10/6/plus-20 in 34:29.
LeBron James: 28/15/8/8 turnovers/minus-22 in 40:02.
Kyrie Irving: 24 on 22 shots/minus-17 in 34:53.
But it was everyone outside those four that turned a seemingly close early game into a 22-point scolding. And the Warriors, as advertised, had most of the everyone-elses.
Draymond Green had a poor offensive night (nine points on 12 shots, 1 of 5 from three) but defended the usual three-to-five Cavaliers with his considerable vigor, tenacity and effect.
Klay Thompson had a brutal shooting night (3-for-16 to extend his current slump and conjure up more Harrison Barnes mean tweets) but was even more stout at the other end, using quickness and leverage to push back when back in by James and others. In short, he made himself have a plus evening even if it seemed like a minus experience to him at times.
And there was Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee who airbrushed Tristan Thompson from the game (6-for-8, 11 rebounds to Thompson's 0-for-3 and four), and Andre Iguodala threw in a subtle 24 minutes of devilish work, and Ian Clark, who backed down from nobody, and David West, whose last backdown was . . . in utero, maybe?
Against this, the rest of the Cavaliers were merely a dismal rumor, finishing the night with a preposterously amorphous line of 36 points on 11 of 44 shots. They never established a paint presence despite Kevin Love's 21 rebounds and gave up 20 possessions on turnovers as opposed to four by Golden State.
In short, Durant was magnificent, Curry effervescent, and everyone else on the home side was forceful and obstructive. In short, the Warriors wowed with their marquee names and won with their vastly superior depth. They were the antithesis of rust with shoes, as their nine-day layoff suggested they might be, and Cleveland was less sluggish than they were slugged.
But before you decide this series is as dead as the three that came before it, remember that the Warriors dominated the early part of the 2016 Finals (104-89 and 110-77, in case you're asking), and lost Game 3 by 30. The assumption that the first punch matters, then, only lasts until the second punch, and sometimes not until the third.
Which, of course, means that everything you think you know after Game 1 may very well be a false lead, if not an outright lie.
It is the nature of the new NBA – the once-safe 20-point lead is often a tease for a manic comeback by the trailing team, either in that game or the one to follow.
It is to Golden State's credit that it did not succumb to the temptations of its early success, and won the second half far more demonstrably than the first. They outscored Cleveland from behind the arc, mauled the Cavs inside the paint, and controlled/dictated the pace. They even won the area around Rihanna's courtside seat after one particularly cheeky Durant trey.
But the Cavs have lost all three openers, by an average of 15 points, and this is being billed as the epic matchup of the age rather than another Buffalo Bills Super Bowl appearance because Cleveland didn't let Game 1 define them either time, let alone ruin their psyches.
At least we think so. The evidence of the previous years clearly shows that, but the smaller sample size of Thursday night spoke volumes in rebuttal. In other words, this has barely started. After an interminable wait, Game 2, or as it actually seems to be, Game 15 of this three-year series, comes in a hurry.

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