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NBA Finals Game 1 was Man versus Team


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- Normally, when LeBron James wreaks havoc in a playoffs game, like he did in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals yesterday, his team almost always wins.

But the King's herculean effort, one that produced 44 points, fell 9 points short as the Golden State Warriors dug out of an early 14-point hole to win in overtime, 108-100 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

James, a four-time MVP, unleashed his entire offensive arsenal upon the Warriors, penetrating at will and scoring in all manner possible -- 3-point shots, free throws, lay-ups, and all sorts of jumpers from short-range to mid-range to long range.

While Warriors fans were mortified seeing LeBron work on going for 50, letting the King rack up the points was actually a part of Golden State's best-laid plans. They chose to let LeBron go off while freezing the rest of the Cavaliers.

Obviously, it worked. And that is why the Warriors are three games away from their first championship since 1975 when Rick Barry led Dub Nation to the promised land..

The Warriors knew that LeBron -- a nimble 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds -- is an unstoppable juggernaut. So instead of collapsing on him each time he drove the lanes and leaving a bevy of Cavaliers wide open, the Warriors opted for single coverage, giving him different looks and using multiple defenders.

LeBron ended up hoisting 38 shots, making 18. And he eventually faded in the waning stretch, which helps explain why he badly missed a step-back jumper that would have stolen Game 1 for the Cavs in regulation.

More importantly, the Cleveland offense stagnated. Besides the injured Kyrie Irving (23 points and 6 assists) and the hard-charging Timofey Mozgov (16 points and 7 rebounds), no other Cav contributed significantly.

Iman Shumpert, who started in place of the sidelined Kevin Love, made only 2-of-8 shots for 6 points. J.R. Smith went 3-for-13 for 9 points while Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones went scoreless after a combined 26 minutes.

The Cleveland bench, which has been so deservedly celebrated in these playoffs, were decimated by the Warriors reserves, 35-9.

After a jittery start, falling behind 26-13 early, Golden State got their act together and played the brand of team basketball that won them 65 regular season games.

Led by Steph Curry's 26 points, 10 Warriors scored in Game 1, five in double figures. Andre Iguodala was especially spectacular, making 6-of-8 field goals while covering James like a blanket.

Game 1 of these 2015 NBA Finals turned out to be Man (LeBron) versus Team (Warriors).

If it keeps up, this series could end sooner than most of us thought.

Photo: LeBron James (L) sizzled with 44 points in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals, but the herculean effort wasn't enough to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Golden State Warriors, who won the overtime thriller, 108-100.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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