cavs hand game 1 over to warriors, 113-91
Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals is in the books after a 22-point victory by the Warriors, 113-91.
Just watching this game, aside from the first quarter, it felt to me as though the Warriors dominated the Cavaliers. It wasn’t until I looked at the box score that I realized that may not have necessarily been the case. The stats tell somewhat of a different story compared to my original perception of how the game played out. The story they did tell was that neither team really played all that great, and one team played a lot worse.
I suppose I thought the Warriors played so much better in part because of what they were able to do in the paint. They nearly doubled Cleveland’s points in paint total, 56-30. It looked like the Cavs’ strategy was sell-out at the three-point line to keep Golden State from hitting those quick-three’s they like to take. Except you can’t just let guys walk to the rim, which the Warriors did time after time.
Aside from those easy buckets, I thought maybe the Warriors were just better from three-point range. But no, both teams were within one percentage of each other, with the Cavs at 35.5 percent and the Warriors at 36.4 percent. In all, neither team shot the ball exceptionally well. The Cavs shot quite poorly at 35 percent, compared to the Warriors at 42.5 percent. It’s practically a wash between the two teams.
The biggest number to come out of Game 1 was that, when all was said and done, the Warriors took 20 more shots than the Cavs. Twenty! It’s hard to lose when you take almost 25 percent more shots than your opponent, which is what Golden State did (106 Warriors shots to 86 Cavaliers shots). I assumed that since the Warriors took so many more shots, there would be a corresponding disparity in the rebounding totals, particularly offensive rebounds. Needless to say, I was surprised that the Cavs actually out-rebounded the Warriors both offensively and defensively (15-14 offense, 44-36 defense).
So if it wasn’t rebounding that accounted for the total-shot disparity, what was it?
Well wait a minute, what do we have here. Let’s take a look at the turnover numbers. For the Warriors, they committed an astoundingly low four turnovers for the entire game. As for the Cavs, they committed 20 turnovers. Bingo! I think we found our answer.
Remember now, the Warriors took 20 more shots than the Cavs – the Cavs committed 20 turnovers. Those turnovers accounted for 21 Warrior points – the Warriors won by 22. Doesn’t this all make sense now? Another similar stat shows the Warriors had 12 steals on the night. That’s compared to the Cavs’ zero steals. Look no further than these totals for your game summary. In turn, Golden State tripled Cleveland’s fastbreak point total, 27-9.
Heading in to Game 2, it’s hard to imagine the Warriors will be as careful with the ball as they were in Game 1. They averaged 13 turnovers per game during the regular season, which is in line with Cleveland’s 12.4 opponent turnovers per game.
Sorry to be so stat-heavy, but the only other interesting takeaway from the game was KD’s stare down of Rihanna after he splashed home a three-pointer.
Speaking of Kevin Durant – okay, time for a just few more stats – he and Steph Curry were the only Warriors to make more than five shots. Who’s in second? Zaza Pachulia with four made shots. Who’s behind him? Klay Thompson, who still can’t buy a bucket for his life. It’s almost as if a Space Jam alien came and sucked away his offensive abilities. On the other hand, nobody could buy a bucket while being defended by Thompson. Cleveland shot 1-12 as a team when Thompson was the primary defender. He needs to keep that intensity up to counter his woeful shooting (Thompson was 3-16 in Game 1).
My main takeaway from Game 1 is that I have no idea what to expect for Game 2. Several anomalies from Game 1 (turnovers, poor shooting) make it hard to predict. Game 2 in 2015 went to the Cavaliers, who were without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Game 2 in 2016 went to the Warriors, who won by 33 points.
Who knows what’ll go down in Game 2 this time around. I just hope it’s as entertaining as the opening salvo.