Top DOG of the Night: Shaun Livingston (20 points, 3 assists)
Golden State’s “UnderDOGs” carried them to a rather easy victory in Game 1. With Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson combining for just 20 points, the Dubs capitalized on 7 players in double figures to take control of the series.
Led by “Midrange Messiah” Shaun Livingston & Andre Iguodala (12 points, 7 boards, 6 assists), GS blitzed Cleveland from too many different directions, controlled the pace, and kept the rock hopping (29 dimes).
Wow, talk about setting the tone! Stephen Curry had his worst performance of the postseason, Klay couldn’t get it going and the Dubs stilllll won by 15 points. The play of guys like Livingston, Iggy and Leandro Barbosa (came in and ROASTED Matthew Dellavedova; 11 points, 5/5 shooting) cannot be understated.
Livingston, in particular, is a really bad matchup for Cleveland’s guards (LeBron ended up guarding him later on in the game) because of his size and excellent probing ability after a screen. He’s a huge X-Factor (and potential candidate for Finals MVP?????) moving forward.
Despite the loss, there were some encouraging signs for Cleveland, who actually took a 1 point lead during the third quarter. LeBron flirted with a triple-double (23 points, 11 boards, 9 dimes), even though he appeared a bit fatigued towards the end of period 3. Kevin Love had a double-double (17 & 13) but struggled to defend and missed a few bunnies at the rim.
The Cavs don’t necessarily have to play a perfect game to win but a 45-10 disadvantage in bench scoring is an impossible hill to overcome. Better decision-making from Kyrie Irving and discovering a consistent source of points off the bench (Channing Frye, dust off Timofey Mozgov??) could help them climb right back into the series.
And will someone please remind J.R. Smith (36 minutes, 1-3, 3 POINTS) the FINALS have started!?