NBA Finals: Holding Splash Brothers Down Not Enough for Cavaliers

LeBron James and Co. walked off the court knowing they squandered a golden opportunity

The Cleveland Cavaliers kept the Splash Brothers at bay during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Even that wasn't enough against the defending champions, and LeBron James and Co. walked off the court knowing they squandered a golden opportunity.

The Cavaliers shot 38 percent and couldn't find a way to stop the Golden State Warriors' supporting cast in a 104-89 loss on Thursday night.

Playing in his sixth straight NBA Finals, James delivered with 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Kevin Love was strong as well in his finals debut with 17 points and 13 boards.

Curry and Thompson combined for just 20 points on 8-for-27 shooting, but Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston and the Warriors bench picked up the slack. Barbosa scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting, Livingston scored 20 points and Iguodala had 12.

"For the most part I'm pleased with what we did defensively against Steph and Klay," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "Their bench did a good job for them."

The Cavaliers bench was outscored 45-10, the Warriors scored 25 points off 17 Cleveland turnovers and the Cavs succumbed to a tide they never saw coming.

"We can't gift them points like that," Lue said. "We'll be better next game."

Game 2 is Sunday in Oakland.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, but shot just 7 of 22. Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who are trying to end a pro sports championship drought in Cleveland that extends back five decades.

If they can't beat the Warriors when their biggest stars aren't raining 3-pointers, the finals rematch that everyone wanted could be over a lot sooner than most predicted.

The game was sealed at the start of the fourth quarter with both Curry and Thompson on the bench. The Warriors still managed to push the lead to 20 points, a shocking development for a team that won a record 73 games in the regular season on the strength of lights-out shooting from its backcourt.

All of the talk for the Cavaliers headed into the rematch was about the ability of Irving and Love - two defensively deficient players - to keep the high-scoring Warriors in front of them.

Curry and Thompson didn't have the field day that many expected, but the Cavs could never capitalize.

The Cavs threw everything they had at the two-time MVP, just as Lue said they would. James, Irving, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova. They all took a crack at him while Thompson, Love and the Cavs bigs gave Curry forearm shivers and shoulder checks every time they had a chance.

Curry missed a wide-open 3 in transition later in the third quarter and Golden State left the door wide open for James and the Cavaliers.

Love's three-point play gave the Cavs a 64-63 lead, but Cleveland couldn't sustain its offensive attack. The Warriors went on a 15-0 run when James went to the bench at the end of the third quarter for a rest, a back-breaking surge that continued into the fourth with both Thompson and Curry on the bench.

"This was a strange game for us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We're not used to having both Steph and Klay off like that with their shooting."

The Cavaliers were second in the league in 3-point shooting this season, behind only the Warriors. They hit just 7 of 21 from long distance, struggles that often tell the tale of their chances to win.

They also struggled at the rim, with 28 missed shots from point-blank range.

Smith scored just three points in 37 minutes.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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