Finally, a 3-pointer dropped in the fourth quarter and Steph Curry reacted out of sheer indignation. Finally. The NBA’s Most Valuable Player grabbed his gnarled mouthpiece and flung it out of bounds, watching it bounce end over end onto the Golden State Warriors’ sideline.
The MVP sent Golden State trainer Drew Yoder hustling for a clean mouthpiece and hit a three for the very first time since the first quarter. “I was merely frustrated missing open shots and turning the ball around, not playing ” Curry said.
For a Game 1 of the NBA Finals, this should’ve ended with a Cleveland Cavaliers victory. Curry was dreadful – Klay Thompson, also – and yet the MVP’s momentary unleashing of angst had come in the final minutes of, yes, a 104-89 Warriors victory Thursday night.
Beyond disconcerting for the Cavaliers, this game had been. The Splash Brothers had missed 19 of 27 shots, and somehow the Cavaliers were still blown out of Oracle Arena. Prized opportunities had come and gone, and now the pressure grows for the Cav’s, they cannot lose the next game and go down 2-0 in the series.
“Shaun Livingston played out of his mind,” Thompson said.
Sometimes, it’s this straightforward: Out of nowhere, someone grows in these playoffs series. Out of nowhere, Livingston had 20 points. Andre Iguodala had 12. Out of nowhere, the Warriors’ bench provided a crushing defeat to begin these NBA Finals and obliterated the Cavaliers. For the Cavs, this was a statement provided by the Warriors.
“You don’t win championships without the whole squad coming in and making an impact on games,” Curry said.
Yes, Livingston was amazing and Cleveland couldn’t answer him. All those years past, he was a burgeoning star in the NBA – only to have his career threatened by a bum leg. Livingston fought his way back to the NBA – and now counts himself as one of the most invaluable bench players in basketball.
“Shaun’s a guy who has battled through more than having to step up in a game,” Draymond Green said. He ’s been from the top to the bottom and back. When you go through so much in his livelihood and life, it makes stepping up in the game simple.”
When Curry was turning the ball over – and was missing shots – it was Livingston making shots and finding his place on the floor. Mid-range shots and drives to the rim. He was 8 for 10 and made everything look so, so simple.
We ’re not used to having both Klay and Steph off like that with their shooting,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Yet Golden State is so well rounded rooted in the fundamentals, so deep in ability, that it found a means to own Game 1. Golden State used Iguodala’s pro experience to anchor a defense that fought the Cavaliers over and over. Across 86 victories – including a record 73 in the regular season – Golden State continually finds ways to grind out successes.
Now, Cleveland has to brace for the inevitability that Curry and Thompson will find themselves that they won’t be held in these Finals. This is Cleveland’s trouble now, its true: If Cleveland was going to steal one at Oracle Arena, Game 1 was the one.
Cleveland was crushed and Golden State becomes buoyed with the belief that it beat the Eastern Conference champions using something that barely resembled the finest the champs had to offer. These Finals have just started, the Cavaliers with a real chance to still gain themselves home-court advantage before the series goes back East. Nevertheless, the Warriors have scarcely left teams such an opening – such a chance – and they did with the Splash Brothers night struggling.