OAKLAND — A search for Cleveland’s silver lining uncovered this fact: in the last two Finals, the Cavs lost Game 1 and recovered to win Game 2.
Last year, they recovered to win the championship.
As bad as the Cavaliers looked in Game 1’s 113-91 defeat, some of the errors are correctable and that starts with turnovers (Cleveland committed 20 compared to Golden State’s 4).
“We was killed ourselves,” said LeBron James, who finished with a game-high eight turnovers. “Like I said, we had 20 turnovers, and there’s no way you’re going to win a ball game having 20 turnovers against this team and on the road.”
Beyond taking care of the ball, the Cavs also need better production from their role players to have any chance in this series.
Deron Williams, making his first Finals appearance off the bench, looked nervous and uncertain, missing all four of his field goals in 19 minutes. Kyle Korver also went scoreless on three shots.
As a whole, Cleveland’s bench shot just 6-for-24.
“We need them to just to be themselves and do what they have done throughout the course of the season, throughout the course of the last couple years: Play with energy, play with effort, play with their mind and their bodies and understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” LeBron James urged after the game. “This is The Finals, and we don’t care about making mistakes, just play as hard as you can and follow the game plan, have your mind in it. And if your mind is fresh and your mind is into it, then a lot of things take care of itself.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, as expected, wasn’t on the sideline Thursday because of the back pain and it’s unclear if he’ll return at all in the Finals.
Like during the other rounds, he was replaced by Mike Brown, who coincidentally coached James and Irving in Cleveland – clashing with both of them – before getting fired twice. Brown is still getting paid by the Cavaliers from the last time he was canned in 2014.
The Warriors, as usual, didn’t miss a beat, as Kerr set out a successful game plan of getting Durant going early.
“We were talking about it before the game, and Steve suggested we try to get the ball in his hands right away and put him in position where he can attack downhill,” Brown said. “So we tried to do that early on, and K.D. didn’t settle. When he had an opportunity, he went downhill, and it worked out well.”