The Golden State Warriors became the first team in NBA history to win their first 13 games of the playoffs, prevailing against Cleveland in the first game of the Finals 113-91.
I remember the Lakers team of 2001 that swept the first three rounds but were unprepared for a rampaging Allen Iverson in the first game of the finals. But they stifled him after that to beat Philadelphia in five games.
The Warriors played arguably one of their best games of the year, and yet not the best they could, at least theoretically. Their shooting was a bit off. But their defense was stellar, as was their rebounding. The most startling stat was turnovers--they had four as a team. LeBron alone had 7. Kevin Durant scored 38, with thunderous dunks and long 3 pointers. Steph Curry picked his spots for his amazing 3s, that further deflated and panicked the Cavs, as did his stuttering drives. For most of the game the team was fluid, fast and fun.
The next day the Cavs were talking about increasing their "physicality." That could be translated into, the only way they can win is if they hurt somebody. The Dubs chemistry was incredible, with lots of assists and everyone contributing on both ends. The Cavs won last year because Curry was hobbled and they goaded Draymond into a suspension. It's their main hope this year as well.
That's the remarkable thing about that first game: both teams are at full strength for the first time in three finals meetings. It was clear in that first game that if the Warriors are focused and getting shots to fall at near their normal clip, they are the better team. Only a significant injury is likely to change that.
Most of the time the odd number games are the most important in a playoff series--1, 3 and especially 5 (and of course 7, duh.) Winning the first game is a big deal. But as we found last year, lots can happen.
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