CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers had seven days off in-between finishing off the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals and beginning their third straight appearance in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
But according to small forward LeBron James, rust was anything but a factor, as the Warriors hustled, rebounded and took advantage of Cavaliers miscues on the way to a 113-91 victory at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Thursday night, as well as a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I also know that you cannot simulate what they bring to the table,” James said. “No matter how many days that you have to prepare, you can't simulate what they have.
“It's great to get the first game up underneath us. We made a lot of mistakes. They capitalized, and we get an opportunity to get a couple days to see what they did and see what we did wrong and how we can be better in Game 2.”
Cleveland Cavaliers battle Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals
Point guard Kyrie Irving added, “There's no way you can simulate the Warriors offense, so when you come out here, and no matter how greatly prepared you are, you know going against them and being in a game is totally different. So I'm glad that we got Game 1 out of the way, and to have this type of game and have an effort that we put forward, it's definitely some things that are correctable.”
Although the Cavaliers got double-doubles of points and rebounds from James (28 points, 15 rebounds) and power forward Kevin Love (15, 21), as well as 24 points from Irving, it was not enough to overcome the 20 turnovers or Golden State’s productivity in the key.
Outside of the 67 points “The Big Three” combined to score, the Cavaliers got just three more points out of the starting lineup on a triple from shooting guard J.R. Smith less than two minutes into the game, and three of the seven reserves who saw action accounted for 21 points.
Conversely, Golden State’s bench scored 24 points, and all but one of the reserves tallied at least one basket in the lopsided victory.
The Warriors got 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from small forward Kevin Durant and 28 to go along with 10 helpers from point guard Stephen Curry.
“I wasn't surprised at anything,” James said. “They are a high-powered offensive team. They can shoot the ball from the perimeter. They can get into the paint. They do everything exceptionally well, if not great, so never surprised by anything that they can do.”
Following the Game 1 loss, the Cavaliers plan to learn from their mistakes and turn their focus squarely on doing what is necessary to even up the best-of-seven series at 1-1 before returning to Cleveland for Game 3 next Wednesday night.
“Just get focused on Game 2,” James said. “We made a lot of mistakes. There's nothing that really needs to be said. We know we're capable of playing a lot better. We didn't play as well as we know we're capable of, so we look forward to the next one.”
Irving added, “Just go forward, continue to have a mindset that the goal at hand, which we want to accomplish, is going to be definitely a tough one. So Game 1 of the series is done, and now, we move on to Game 2.”