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NBA Finals 2017: Golden State Warriors Take Game One

The Golden State Warriors took another bold step on Thursday night in their quest to notch the first in NBA postseason history, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-90 in Game 1 of the Finals.

A Warriors team that’s nearly perfect on paper was masterful in practice, led by Kevin Durant’s 38 points. He became just the fourth NBA player to score at least 25 points in his first six Finals games. Durant attacked the rim relentlessly all night. He capitalized on every awkward closeout and missed defensive assignment by Cleveland, and tore through the open floor on the break with impunity. He threw down six dunks and racked up 23 points alone before halftime.

But Durant’s individual exploits were anything but hero-ball. Though he was opportunistic when presented with a mouthwatering advantage Kyrie Irving on the switch he moved the ball generously, tallying six assists in the first half and finished the game with eight. For what it’s worth, Durant also matched up with LeBron James on the other end when the Warriors’ starting unit was on the court.

The Warriors’ first successful 3-pointer came 10 minutes into the first quarter when Curry, in a bold act of whimsy during a game that was a bit ragged from the start, pulled up from 31 feet and fired away. He followed up that launch on the next two possessions with another 3, then an acrobatic foray into the paint for a twisting layup. Golden State capped a 35-point first quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Andre Iguodala, a promising sight from the team’s glue guy who has been battling a knee injury over the course of the postseason.

Leading by eight at intermission, the Warriors wrested control of the game in the opening moments of the third quarter with a scorching 13-0 run. Over a four-minute stretch, Golden State unleashed their full Warrior barrage of 3-pointers, pinpoint passes, and suffocating defense orchestrated with sure-footed choreography. The Cavs, much as they did in last year’s Finals, targeted Curry in the half-court, spinning him into a series of hard screens. But Curry navigated them with aplomb, showing, recovering and getting timely assistance from his teammates, who did a stellar job cutting off Cleveland penetrators at the point of attack.

Though he struggled again from the floor 3-for-16, including a 0-for-5 night from distance Klay Thompson continued to assert himself as the Warriors’ sturdiest wing defender this postseason, a development that would have seemed inconceivable during his first couple of seasons in the league. Thompson entered the Finals holding his matchups to 34 percent from the field (tops among postseason defenders), contesting 80 percent of attempts (ranking 2nd). On Thursday night, he used his size to get into Kyrie Irving’s space and handled the Warriors’ switch-heavy scheme with fluency.

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