CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers got exactly what they expected when taking on the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Thursday night.
In front of the home fans, the Warriors certainly came out like a team ready to erase the memory of and eliminate the sting from losing last year’s NBA Finals after building a 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers, only to be on the wrong side of an historic comeback, and fought their way to a 113-91 Game 1 win.
“They're tough at home,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We know that. They probably lost eight games (here) over the course of three seasons. We know coming into this building, they're going to play. It's going to be a tough game for us.
“But just getting a chance to see how they play, the style of play, how fast they play, you can't really simulate that in practices. You’ve got to really get out here and get a chance to do it firsthand. When we experience that and we're able to adjust, we're a lot better.”
Cleveland Cavaliers battle Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals
Turnovers hurt the Cavaliers in their Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they once again proved costly in the loss to the Warriors.
The Cavaliers committed 20 turnovers, many of them unforced errors, and the Warriors responded by converting those extra possessions into 21 points, including 11 markers off of eight Cleveland miscues in the second half.
The Warriors committed just four turnovers, which resulted in only six Cavaliers points.
Between the turnovers and early struggles on the glass, the Cavaliers gave up 20 more shots than they took in Game 1.
“When you're playing a good team like this, you can't give them 20 more shots than you have,” Lue said. “Having 20 turnovers and not being able to get back and get your defense set, they really take advantage of that, especially at home, and they thrive off turnovers and getting out in transition.”
Since Lue took over as head coach of the Cavaliers in January of 2016, the biggest points of emphasis on offense have been tempo and unselfishness, but neither were on Cleveland’s side Thursday night.
The Cavaliers struggled to get out in transition, and when opportunities presented themselves, they made just two of their 12 looks on the fast break, which was indicative of the fact that Cleveland made only 30 of its 86 field goal attempts and 11 of its 31 tries from three-point range.
On those 30 made baskets, the Cavaliers handed out only 15 assists, while the Warriors were credited with 31 helpers on 45 baskets.
“When you turn the basketball over, they really make you pay,” Lue said. “We can play a lot better. I know we will play better. When we're not making shots and they get off in transition off of rebounds and stuff like that, they're tough to guard.
“I know we can play better, we will play better, but we’ve got to do a better job putting the ball in the basket.”