Cavs seek answers after Game 1 demolition by Golden State Warriors
OAKLAND, California (AP):
LeBron James bit on a pump fake and got no help as Kevin Durant drove to the basket for one of his several uncontested dunks. Stephen Curry was left alone behind the 3-point line and made Cleveland pay time and again.
The defensive woes that plagued the Cavaliers late in the regular season were glaring against the star-laden Golden State Warriors in a 113-91 loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
Durant had six dunks in the first half alone to match his most ever in a game, Curry hit six 3-pointers, and the Cavaliers looked like the team that stumbled down the stretch in the second half of the season.
"We're just going to have to dig our feet in and be able to guard the basketball," guard Kyrie Irving said. "So it's more or less a heart thing, a prideful thing. Going into Game 2, we'll be a lot more settled in, a lot better on the defensive end."
Cleveland went just 23-23 after January 10 and was ranked in the bottom third statistically on defense all season. The lapses were mostly glossed over as the Cavs streaked through the Eastern Conference play-offs. Cleveland shut down Indiana's Paul George, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, and Boston's Isaiah Thomas before he went down with a hip injury on the way to a 12-1 post-season record.
The Cavaliers are going to have to make some adjustments to slow down the Warriors.
When Cleveland stayed on Curry, Durant got easy dunks in transition.
"That's when they become very dangerous because those guys, they sprint down the lane, they sprint to the 3-point line, they put a lot of pressure on your defence," James said. "But the ball is the number-one thing. We got to stop the ball first and then fan out to the 3-point line if those guys go there."
After a 13-0 run to open the second half with help from four of Cleveland's 20 turnovers, the game was never close, leaving Cleveland to figure out a way to regroup before Game 2 on Sunday.
The turnovers were an issue all night, with James committing eight of them. Making matters worse was a lack of scoring help from any of their role players. James finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists; Irving scored 24 points; and Love had 15 points and 21 rebounds.
No one else seemed to show up, with the most glaring absences being Tristan Thompson, who had no points and four rebounds and was outplayed at times by Zaza Pachulia and J.R. Smith, who made just one basket.