Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 5, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA FINALS – GAME 1
WARRIORS WIN OUT (AND IN MORE WAYS
THAN ONE!) IN A THRILLING OVERTIME BASH
Is it possible to lose a Game 1 – and an NBA Finals series – all on the very same night?
No doubt that's what the Cleveland Cavaliers might well be thinking this morning after last night's 108-100 overtime win by the 5.5-point home favorite Golden State Warriors.
Okay, so it's the "one-that-got-away" game that no underdog side can truly afford to have happen in a best-of-seven championship series but then toss into the mix the fact that Cavs' star point guard Kyrie Irving exited the locker room at night's end on crutches (and in tears) following yet another knee injury and you get the sense that Cleveland's "balloon" in this here-and-now NBA Finals may have burst after one measly basketball game.
It's gonna be a long wait till Sunday night's Game 2, eh?
Just a reminder: Game 1 winners are 48-20 overall in the NBA Finals (a .706 winning rate) … just sayin'!
GOLDEN STATE 108, CLEVELAND 100 (OT) – Warriors lead series 1-0
Let's not lose sight of the "big picture" here and that's the Warriors roared back from a 14-point first-half deficit and both won and covered the almighty Las Vegas price tag in this series-opening tilt at rambunctious Oracle Arena and that's saying something when you consider Golden State scored just 19 first-quarter points, connected on just four of its first 19 field-goal attempts and wound up allowing Cleveland super-hero LeBron James to score his NBA Finals career-high 44 points.
Okay, so James was in "Iso-ville" all night as described by heady ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy – "The King" cleared out one side of the court time after time en route to an 18-of-38 FG evening (that means he took 40.4 percent of Cleveland's total field-goal attempts) – and generally the strategy worked until both James and his Cavs teammates ran out of gas at the start of overtime and then had to play the final two-plus minutes of the OT session without Irving who played a brilliant game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and one humongous shot-block of a Stephen Curry lay-up in the closing seconds of regulation play.
As advertised, the Warriors had their share of scoring spurts – including a 26-10 scoring run that really stabilized the game after Cleveland surged to a big first-quarter lead – and Curry (26 points on 10-of-20 FG shooting) and fellow "Splash Brother" Klay Thompson (21 points including 16 of 'em in the second half) posted decent numbers with Curry draining some big free throws in OT but when you want to hand out bouquets here to Steve Kerr's winning squad than you start with veteran Andre Iguodala (15 points and great late-game "D" on James) and another fellow key reserve Marreese Speights who poured in eight confident points in just nine minutes of game action – that G-State bench famously outscored Cleveland's reserves 34-9 and that had Cavaliers' head coach David Blatt forlornly admitting in the post-game presser that was a really big part of the game.
You can delve into strategy all you wish here but know this:
The Warriors came out nervous – real nervous – and neither Curry nor Thompson really had great games while Draymond Green (4-of-13 FG shooting) was pretty much a non-factor with 12 points and 6 rebounds and when you reviews the stat line you saw rebounding (48-to-45 in the Warriors' favor) and free-throw attempts (22-to-19 in Golden State's favor) as no big deal but consider the Cavaliers shot 13-of-19 from the charity stripe with James missing four FTs while the aforementioned G-State bench sported a 19-to-6 rebounding edge to go along with that scoring advantage … we told you heading into Game 1 that Kerr's deeper/better bench could be a factor and darn if we're not a single game into this series and that bench might have swayed all the momentum (already!) into the Warriors' favor.
Finally, the Cavaliers simply are not gonna win any games this series if the likes of J.R. Smith (3-of-13 FG shooting overall and 3-of-10 from three-point land) isn't hitting his open triples and don't you just know that the Cavs will be replaying over and over in their heads that follow-up corner shot by Iman Shumpert at the regulation buzzer that all the Warriors (and coach Kerr) felt was dead-on line to go in and thus would have given Cleveland the 100-98 win.
Instead, Shumpert's follow-up shot after the James fallback miss clicked off the rim, the game went into OT and Irving went down for the count in that overtime session – how fates/fortunes would have been so different had Shumpert just thrown up that shot with a better touch!
Now, here's the Cavaliers-Warriors series in game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):
Now hear this …
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THE BASEBALL REPORT
Lots of fun series comin' your way this June weekend and here's a little something to watch when you're not checking out the Belmont Stakes on Saturday or the NBA Finals Game 2 tilt on Sunday night:
In the National League …
The St. Louis Cardinals (36-18) drew first blood in this four-game set in southern California against the Los Angeles Dodgers (31-23) as the Redbirds snagged a 7-1 win last night behind RHP Michael Wacha (8-1) as RF Jason Heyward and 2B Kolten Wong knocked in two runs apiece – and remember the Cards just took two-of-three at home versus the Dodgers last weekend and even in-the-loop LA folks are starting to say the NL West team just can't beat St. Loo when it matters.
The series continues this evening and we'll see if the Dodgers can be more efficient after scoring just once last night on nine base hits. The Dodgers will throw LHP Clayton Kershaw at the Cards this weekend but St. Louis has owned him the past couple of post-seasons.
Now, here's the scheduled pitching matchups for the games tonight-thru-Sunday:
It's St. Loo's Carlos Martinez (5-2, 3.13 ERA) vs. Dodgers LHP Brett Anderson (2-3, 3.42) this evening; on Saturday, it's Cardinals' LHP Jaime Garcia (1-2, 2.70) vs. the above-mentioned LHP Kershaw (4-3, 3.73); and Sunday it's RHP Lance Lynn (4-4, 3.03) for the Cards and RHP Zack Greinke (5-1, 1.97 ERA) for the Dodgers.
In the American League …
The "other" team from SoCal – the Los Angeles Angels (28-26) -- invade Yankee Stadium in The Bronx this weekend and did you notice that Mike Scioscia's Angels club is 5.5 games back of first place Houston in the AL West … and only the aforementioned Cardinals' 6.5-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central is a bigger lead in any of MLB's six divisions.
The Yankees (29-25) come home off a three-game sweep of the reeling Seattle Mariners and suddenly the likes of 1B/OF Garrett Jones (two big home runs against the M's) are contributing to an offense that's run hot and cold in recent weeks although 1B Mark Teixeira does have a whopping 16 dingers.
Overall, the Yankees' 67 home runs are second-best to Toronto in the AL while Mike Trout's 14 home runs leads an Angels' team that ranks just sixth in the long ball in the junior circuit.
The weekend series pitching matchups are as follows:
Tonight it's Angels RHP Jered Weaver (4-4, 4.08 ERA) vs. Yankees' RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40); on Saturday it's RHP Garrett Richards (5-3, 3.26) for the Angels and RHP Adam Warren (3-4, 3.75) for the Bombers; and on Sunday it's LHP C.J. Wilson (3-4, 3.55 ERA) for the Halos against Yankees' RHP Michael Pineda (7-2, 3.33).
NOTE: Our NBA Finals Game 2 Preview comes your way in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez plus catch more MLB News & Notes too!