Warriors forward Kevin Durant finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and came up with some key defensive plays.
But that wasn’t enough.
“I think that’s how Cleveland is going to approach it, make it a physical game”, Michael Cooper, now the coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream who went through some Lakers-Celtics battles as a player in the 1980s, said before the series began.
LeBron James bit on a pump fake and got no help as Kevin Durant drove to the basket for one of his several uncontested dunks. But we obviously have been through a championship success story where we know what it takes to win. “Heading to Cleveland we’re gonna have to be a lot smarter”. “We understand what it takes to elevate our game, get better every single year, how to use our practice sessions, our individual sessions, whatever it is, to stay sharp”.
According to the NBA’s stats department, this was the first time in NBA Finals history that players on opposing teams each recorded a triple-double. Golden State is a different team now with Kevin Durant on board.
In basketball parlance, that would be 29 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, three steals, one blocked shot and four turnovers.
He is returning to the bench for Sunday night’s Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers to coach the Warriors for the first time in more than six weeks.
“That’s what they do”, James said. He hit a couple of shots early, which certainly had to help his confidence, and continued as the game went on, finishing with 22 points, his second-highest point total of the postseason, on 8-for-12 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 on 3-pointer. “The game is too fresh”.
And it doesn’t mean the Warriors will stop feeding him in hopes he will find his stroke soon as evidenced by his 16 shot attempts in Game 1. And we forced them to 20 turnovers, and they still beat us pretty good.
James was equally spectacular with his own triple-double of 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, but yet again didn’t get almost enough help to keep up with Golden State’s depth despite Kevin Love’s 27 points and 19 from Kyrie Irving.
While KD has been sensational so far during the Finals, his performance is a little hard to appreciate, in large part because greatness looks so easy when you’re Kevin Durant and you have a handful of All-Star teammates. Curry also had a triple-double – 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
That seemed like a bad omen for the Cavaliers, and things got worse once the second half got underway.
Golden States other Splash Brother has made far more brick sounds than swishes so far this postseason but its work on the defensive end that has stood out most and been a major factor in the Warriors leading Cleveland 1-0 in the NBA Finals after three straight series sweeps to open the postseason.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, whose return to the bench in Game 2 was the story of the night, had some fun with me when I asked if he had a plan to combat James in Cleveland.
Lue says he had texted with Kerr during the playoffs to send his best wishes while Kerr missed the previous 11 games following complications from back surgeries. “Got a really nice reception from our fans and our players”.