CLEVELAND -- Winning the games within the game has been a strength of the Cleveland Cavaliers throughout the 2017 NBA Playoffs, but the opposite was true against the Golden State Warriors, who won every situational scoring category in a 113-91 Game 1 victory in The Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Thursday night.
Thanks to several wide-open dunks from small forward Kevin Durant, the Warriors outpaced the Cavaliers, 56-30, in the paint. Also, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers, 18-13, in second-chance situations, and, 27-9, on the fast break.
“We kind of did something,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.
“One of our game plans was kind of backwards, but when Kevin Durant has the ball, you don't want to leave him and get to shooters. I thought they got him going early in the game. I thought he got out in transition, got four or five dunks early and it just kind of opened everything up for him.”
Cleveland Cavaliers battle Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals
The Cavaliers took a four-point lead, 12-8, when point guard Kyrie Irving buried a three-pointer from the left corner and followed up with a driving layup two possessions later, but the Warriors answered with a 12-5 run of their own and took a 20-17 advantage, thanks to Durant’s dribble-drives and finishes at the rim.
The Warriors used the situational scoring and 23 points from Durant to build a 60-52 lead over the Cavaliers at halftime.
Thanks to several driving dunks from Durant and second-chance opportunities, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers, 42-16, in the paint and used 11 Cleveland turnovers to score 10 points over the first 24 minutes of play.
“We’ve got to make it much tougher on him, can't give a great scorer like Durant easy baskets like that, especially in transition, especially early,” Lue said. “We’ve got to do a better job of taking that away.”
In addition to taking away Golden State’s attempts in the lane, where they were 28 of 56 in the game and took more than half of their shots from close range, Lue wants to see the Cavaliers attack the paint more often in Game 2 Sunday night.
The Cavaliers made just 15 of their 39 attempts in the key, and after eight first-quarter free throws, small forward LeBron James got only four more tries over the final 36 minutes of play.
“Just keep attacking,” Lue sad. “They don't have a lot of shot blocking on the floor, so when they go small, we can get to the paint and get pretty much anything we want.
“They do a good job of collapsing, and then, we’ve got to kick out and we’ve got to make shots, but with (James) being aggressive, getting downhill, it really helps our offense.”