3rd Quarter: Cavaliers Storm Back
The Cavaliers are not falling into the trap of letting Golden State run away with the game. The early 10-3 run by Golden State in the quarter is a thing of the past, with the teams tied 73-73 after LeBron James and Stephen Curry traded 3-pointers. With just under four minutes to play in the third. LeBron James is up to 36 points.
Marc Stein: We’ve played more than half of this third quarter and the Cavaliers are still here to tell about it. Cleveland has slowed the pace nicely: LeBron really is a basketball savant. It’s 68-68 and Oracle Arena is in shock.
3rd Quarter: Javale McGee Stays Busy
McGee, who was off to a strong start in the half, got the ball under the basket with no one in front of him. The 7-foot-1 center turned, elevated and seemed to forget to bring the ball up. By the time he thought to it was too late and he had his shot blocked — by the rim. It was a play that could seemingly only happen to McGee, who nevertheless had 4 points in six minutes of work.
Marc Stein: JaVale McGee giveth … and JaVale McGee taketh away. Will leave it to Ben Hoffman to describe what McGee just did there. Because I am struggling for words.
3rd Quarter: Warriors Pick Up Where They Left Off
JaVale McGee started the second half and has instantly made an impact. His hectic defense against LeBron James (it wasn’t pretty) proved effective on one possession and then he scored consecutive baskets on the offensive end. The fan favorite has helped the Warriors start the half on a 10-3 run.
Marc Stein: JaVale McGee — Mr. Vertical Spacing — is having an impact already. Another quality adjustment for Steve Kerr’s coaching ledger.
Halftime: Curry’s Buzzer-Beater Ties it Up
Stephen Curry got the ball in his hands with just seconds to play in the first half and he launched a 38-footer that would have been a ridiculous attempt from any other player in the N.B.A. but was basically a layup for him. The ball found its home as time expired and the Warriors went into halftime tied with the Cavaliers, 56-56.
If a monster third quarter for Golden State is coming, then Cleveland is in trouble. The Cavaliers were terrific in the first half, getting a typically-gargantuan performance from LeBron James, who had 24 points and 4 assists. They also got 12 points from Kevin Love, and they even outscored the Warriors while James took a short rest. But they are going into halftime having lost what was at one point an 11-point lead, and with the Warriors typically hitting their stride coming out of halftime, that could be a major issue.
Curry has looked as strong or stronger than he ever has in a finals game, with 18 points and six assists, while Kevin Durant has not displayed his typical dominance, with 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting.
Marc Stein: Dare I say LeBron is milking that shot to the face just a touch. But he’s up to 24 points in a near-flawless first half — flawless until the flammable Stephen Curry got loose for a 38-footer at the buzzer. 56-56 all at intermission!
As Ty Lue noted in his media address Wednesday, Golden State’s favorite quarter is Cleveland’s worst. How the Cavs cope in the first six minutes here is key. The problem: Stephen Curry is already dialed and the third quarter hasn’t started yet.
2nd Quarter: Green’s Hard Foul Puts James on the Floor
Draymond Green picked up his third personal foul of the game in a hard collision with LeBron James under the basket in which Green’s left hand hit James directly in the face, resulting in James being on the court for a few moments to collect himself. Green received his fourth technical foul of the postseason and headed to the bench.
2nd Quarter: Even With James on the Bench, Cavs Execute
Coach Tyronn Lue clearly had a plan with that timeout. LeBron James came out of the game for a rest with the score 44-40 in Cleveland’s favor. An immediate 3-pointer by George Hill, a steal followed by a Larry Nance Jr. dunk and a midrange shot by Kevin Love had it 51-40 before Klay Thompson ended the run with a 3-pointer. By the time James checked back into the game with 3:07 remaining, Cleveland had outscored Golden State by a score of 7-5 in his absence which is something the Cavaliers are almost never capable of doing.
2nd Quarter: It’s All Offense So Far
The timeout appeared to reset the Warriors, who went on a quick 5-2 run that forced Cleveland to take a timeout of its own. The little burst included Klay Thompson hitting a 26-foot 3-pointer, showing no ill-effects from the collision earlier. LeBron James is up to 20 points already on 8 of 9 shooting and has chipped in with four assists as well.
2nd Quarter: Warriors Have No Answer for LeBron James
The Warriors, trailing by seven points, called a timeout with 7:48 remaining in the quarter. The most notable problem on Golden State’s end is probably Kevin Durant not making an impact, with only 6 points in 13 minutes. But the far bigger problem is Golden State not being able to slow down LeBron James at all without Andre Iguodala out. He has been able to do anything he wants offensively. The Warriors need to do something to break his rhythm because expecting him to wear out like James Harden did in the Western Conference finals is not a good strategy against the tireless James.
Marc Stein: Where is the Golden State defense? Translation: Where is the Golden State focus and effort? The Warriors just held the Houston offensive juggernaut under 100 points in five straight games. But they’re not playing with anything close to the same level of focus. Might they be waiting for the third quarter? (For the record: I am NOT feeling the suit shorts LeBron wore when he strolled into Oracle Arena tonight. And, yes, I secretly dream of writing for the NYT Style section.)
2nd Quarter: Cleveland Winning Battle of the Boards
The early second quarter has been much of the same, with Cleveland continuing to push the ball offensively and make Golden State pay for any missed shot on the other end of the court. The rebounding advantage is currently 13-7 in Cleveland’s favor and they are exerting their size advantages all over the places leading a 5-point lead.
Marc Stein: Feel-out game? LeBron is just feelin’ it. Period. He’s 6 for 7 from the field after finally missing an elbow jumper.
2nd Quarter: Klay Thompson Returns
Klay Thompson came back to the Warriors’ bench with just over a minute left in the first quarter and the crowd in Oakland exploded in huge cheers for the popular shooting guard. He was back on the court for the start of the second quarter but came up well short on a 3-point attempt.
End of 1st Quarter: LeBron James, Kevin Love Lead Cavs
Both teams are playing hard on both ends of the court, both are shooting better than 55 percent from the field, and a spirit of competitiveness is alive in Oracle Arena as the Cavaliers have repeatedly been able to answer any basket by the Warriors. At the end of the first quarter they lead, 30-29.
LeBron James leads all scorers with 12 points while Stephen Curry has 11. In a huge development for the Cavaliers, Kevin Love is just behind those leaders with 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting.
The question going forward is if this quick pace is something Cleveland can keep up with all game. Throughout the playoffs, Golden State’s opponents have tended to get worn out in the second half.
Marc Stein: LeBron James has often described Game 1 as his “feel-out game.” But there’s much less need for feeling things out when you’re playing the same team in the finals for the fourth consecutive June. An aggressive James has 12 points after a quarter, and those underdogs from Cleveland just recorded a 30-point opening quarter against the supposed invincibles.
1st Quarter: Cavs Keeping Pace With Warriors
Cleveland has continued to keep pace with Golden State, not letting what could be a backbreaking play, like Nick Young managing to score off an inbound pass with just 1.5 seconds left on the shot clock, break their spirit. They have gotten strong play from Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, supporting LeBron James more than we have seen in the previous few series.
Klay Thompson is being taped with a left lateral contusion on his leg and is expected to be available to return. His being out of the game for any length of time undoubtedly hurts the Golden State offense, but with Stephen Curry in a shooting groove, the length of time Thompson is out will have more of an effect on defense. Young can play better defense than some people may think, but he’s definitely a downgrade from Thompson.
Marc Stein: Lateral leg contusion — NOT words Golden State wants to hear these days when the same injury has sidelined Ande Iguodala for the past five playoff games. But ESPN’s Doris Burke says Klay is expected to return. And Thompson is known for being ultra durable.
1st Quarter: Klay Thompson to the Locker Room
Klay Thompson has come out of the game after a collision with J.R. Smith with 6:17 left in the first quarter. Smith appeared to slip and, in the process, awkwardly twisted Thompson’s left leg. Thompson is headed back to the locker room to be examined.
Marc Stein: That J.R. Smith takedown of Klay Thompson had some shades of Sergio Ramos vs. Mo Salah in the Champions League final. The intent wasn’t there on J.R.’s part — accidental slip. But it might have the same effect depending on how seriously Thompson is hurt. Smith couldn’t control his footing because of the slip … but he also didn’t exactly have a play on the ball. Another entry in J.R.’s reckless postseason.
1st Quarter: Scoring Comes in Bunches Early
A deep 3-pointer and a driving layup by Stephen Curry, an alley-oop to Kevin Durant and a 16-footer by Klay Thompson had the Golden State offense humming along at a solid clip early in the first quarter, but Cleveland held strong thanks, unsurprisingly, to LeBron James and Kevin Love, and the Cavaliers were leading 15-12 at the game’s first break in action.
Golden State has been aggressive on both ends of the court, forcing a few turnovers, but Cleveland has just pushed the ball steadily toward the basket and has worked to keep the Warriors off their rhythm. Just before the break in action, Golden State was breaking across the court for what would have been a mismatch on offense and Cleveland broke it up with a smart foul. For all of the talk of the mismatch, the veteran Cavaliers do not look the least bit scared so far.
Marc Stein: Let’s see if this pace is something Cleveland can really continue to keep. The Warriors are far better conditioned to run up and down this way. The Cavaliers are humming offensively but they typically flourish in this building when the game is grind-y.
They’re also getting no stops early (as feared).
1st Quarter: First Points Scored by LeBron James
Tristan Thompson won the opening tip over Kevon Looney and the Cavs moved the ball around quite a bit before Kevin Love missed an opening mid-range jumper. Golden State lost the ball on a turnover and LeBron James put in a layup for the first two points of Game 1. The 2018 N.B.A. finals are officially underway.