Women lie, men lie, numbers don’t, at least that’s how the song goes and as far as Game 1 of the 2017 NBA finals went, they sure didn’t. Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a 113-91 defeat to the Golden State Warriors.
The Cavs‘ first Knight, or should I say King, Lebron James, made his seventh straight finals appearance while their rivals from the West, the Warriors, made their third straight appearance in the championship round.
The defending champions Cavs came into this game having just lost one game all through the playoffs and if you thought that was impressive, The Warriors came into this round undefeated. Now for the purists of the game, you know who you are, the anti-analytics fans, these numbers must be driving you crazy.
Not as crazy as they drove the Cavs head coach Tyrone Lue in the first half.
The home team Warriors went into the break leading 60-52, just an 8 point lead. Well, on paper and as a casual observer, that might have seemed infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things but consider this.
The Warriors had 42 points in the paint compared to 20 by the visiting Cavs, a 20-point differential. These numbers alone should stick out like a sore thumb.
The Cavs game is predicated on getting easy points in the paint, going just by the physical constitution of the team. On any given day trying to guard Lebron James is going to be a handful, just ask the Boston Celtics, who kept having mismatch issues with him in the first two games of the eastern conference finals.
That being said they really shoot the 3 ball well, well enough to stretch any opposition defence to perilous limits.
However, in this particular start of the NBA finals, they looked a pale shadow of their 3-point selves, shooting a woeful 35%, going 11 of 31 from beyond the arc.
That however was not their biggest problem in this game. There was a concerted effort by Ty Lue and his charges to play a more inside game, after all trying to out play a nearly 50% three point shooting team by jacking up shots from deep is not exactly a winning formula.
To their credit they managed to do that early on in the first quarter with James attempting 8 free throws after strong drives to the basket, scoring 15 of his game total 28 points in that early period of the game. What essentially killed the wine and gold were their turnovers.
They were careless with the ball to a tune of 20 for the game, 17 midway through the third quarter.