On the road, facing staggering odds, the Cavs opened the NBA Finals in Oakland playing like a team with nothing to lose, and they almost stole a win in Game 1. In a back-and-forth game that featured big play after big play, the Warriors outlasted the Cavs in overtime 124-114 as LeBron James turned in one of his all-time great Finals performances with 51 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Fourth Quarter: Cavs fight back
Down six with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Cavs responded with a LeBron layup, a LeBron slam, a Kevin Love three, and a LeBron circus shot to take the lead late. And when the Cavs needed it, George Hill came through with a big free throw. The Cavs had one last chance at the end, but it appeared J.R. Smith was confused on the last possession of the game, which the Cavs squandered.
Third Quarter: Warriors claw their way to a lead
The Warriors, as they always do, came out hot in the third quarter. The Cavs, as they too often do, came out cold. But LeBron kept the Cavs in it, with 36 points through three quarters.
LeBron didn't take a shot until five minutes into the quarter, which hurt with Kevin Love and George Hill unable to get it going. But the Warriors were unable to bury the Cavs the way they did in 2017. James hit a big three to tie it at 68. He followed it up a few minutes later with a deep three to take a short-lived lead.
First Half: The Cavs came to play
LeBron, looking spry, made his first six shots, and the rest of the supporting cast looked sharp as the Cavs took an 11-point lead before letting Golden State back in the game late in the second quarter.
For the first time since the 2016 Finals, the Warriors looked vulnerable. Steph Curry was Steph Curry, but Draymond Green and Kevin Durant didn’t contribute much. The Cavs controlled the tempo in a way teams seldom do at Oracle Arena. James led the way with 24 points.
Late in the second quarter, Green (surprise) mashed his hand into James's face on a drive. James took his time getting up.
The Warriors suffered a bigger scare. Klay Thompson left the game in the first quarter after J.R. Smith accidentally slid into his legs while chasing down a pass. The Warriors are already shorthanded with Andre Iguodala out. Smith, who did not slide intentionally, was booed by the Golden State crowd. Thompson suffered a left lateral leg contusion, according to the Warriors. He reentered the game in the second quarter.