LeBron James kept rolling the numbers over in his mind, dumbfounded over how he and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers squandered a shot at stealing Game One of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
“When you get outscored 45-10 on the bench and give up 25 points off 17 turnovers, no matter what someone does or doesn’t do, it’s going to be hard to win, especially on the road,” James said after Thursday’s 104-89 loss.
Other numbers indicated Cleveland had a golden opportunity to seize a quick lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
Golden State’s vaunted long-range sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson mostly misfired as Curry made 4-of-15 from the floor and Thompson shot 4-of-12 to combine for 20 points, 32 below their season’s scoring average.
“Don’t matter what you do with Steph and Klay, don’t matter what you do with Draymond (Green),” said James, who scored 23 points. “Give up 45 points off the bench and 25 points off turnovers on the road, it’s not a good ingredient to win.”
James and Kevin Love were each charged with four turnovers and point guard Kyrie Irving committed three as the Warriors registered nine steals in the game.
“I feel like our backs are against the wall but we’ve thrive in situations like this all season long,” Love told NBA TV on Friday.
“You have to have an us against the world mentality.”
The free-flowing Warriors got a huge boost from their reserves and unselfish sharing of the ball as the team shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and logged assists on 29 of their 43 baskets.
Cleveland, by contrast, had only 17 assists in the game.
It marked Golden State’s sixth win in a row over Cleveland, dating back to last year’s Final when they won the last three games after trailing 2-1 in the series to lift the trophy.
James said the Cavaliers would have to come up with a different recipe for success in Game Two on Sunday.
“We will have a better game plan going into Game Two for sure offensively,” James said.
Coach Tyronn Lue thought the plan was fine and that sharper execution was the remedy for the Cavs, who shot a poor 21-of-49 from inside the paint.
“We didn’t finish around the basket, so we’ve just got to keep playing the same way we were playing,” Lue said. “I thought we were fine. I feel good about how we played.”
On Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr credited his team’s defense. “I thought we did a good job of challenging a lot of shots,” he said. “I thought they missed a couple that they would normally make, but all in all it was a good defensive effort.
“But it’s probably going to have to be better in Game Two, because we know the force that they’re going to come with.”