Game 1 of the NBA Finals went down to the wire, but Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors managed to outscore LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-100 in overtime Thursday. Although the venue remains the same, the focus now turns to Game 2, which happens on Sunday.
According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, James may have scored 44 points in the entire game, but it wasn't enough to beat the Warriors in their home court in Oakland. In addition, the Cavaliers lost Kyrie Irving to a sports injury during the overtime matchup; Kevin Love is already out for the season.
"The All-Star point guard missed two games of the Eastern Conference Finals with tendinitis in the same knee," Buckley wrote of Irving. "He left Oracle Arena on crutches and will have an MRI on Friday."
Buckley added that both Irving and James scored 67 of the team's points and had 12 of its 19 assists. However, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today that Irving showed no signs of the tendinitis that was bothering him until he played in overtime.
"Coming in I felt amazing," Irving said, who later became concerned after leaving the game with an injury. "Obviously you can see in the tone in my voice I'm a little worried."
Irving added that he was "just in a little bit of pain" after he tried to dribble the ball past Warriors guard Klay Thompson.
"I don't know what I felt but obviously it didn't feel right," Irving said of the knee injury. "It was a little bit different than what I had been experiencing."
Irving contended that both his ACL and MCL were "fine," hoping it's only just "a re-aggravation of what was going on."
"I just want to make sure everything's OK, so I'm going to take the necessary steps in order to see what's going on," Irving said.
James indicated that backup Matthew Dellavedova may have to step up if Irving is forced to sit out Game 2.
"It's the next man up," James said. "If Kyrie can't go, Delly's number is going to be called and everyone else has to pick each other up."
However, a tweet from CBS Sports NBA reported that Irving is "done for the Finals" after the Cavaliers announced that he suffered a fractured kneecap. Surgery would be required to fix the problem.
As for the Warriors, Buckley stated that the team had "both depth and health on their side." However, he also noted that Golden State "shot just 28.6 percent from the field" during the opening period against Cleveland, which had a "double-digit advantage."
"Golden State entered the game without a single player who had NBA Finals experience, and it showed," Buckley wrote. "The Dubs settled down from there, but the problems posed by the Cavs were apparent throughout regulation."
Buckley observed that the Warriors exploited the tactic that Cleveland relied on James to carry out the big attacks on the basketball court.
"Rather than forcing the ball out of his hands, they focused on limiting his supporting cast," Buckley wrote of the Warriors game strategy. "It led to some uneasy moments, but the scoreboard eventually declared it a success."
However, Buckley contended that Golden State's slow starts could burn them in future games, especially if they help "heat up the Cavs shooters early."
"Golden State has to come out of the gates with controlled aggression, establishing its pace but not racing for the first decent shot it can find," Buckley wrote.
Buckley predicted that the Cavaliers could "score an upset" if Irving is allowed to play. Even if that happens, he thought that the Warriors would win the next game, given that their "edge in bench production isn't likely to go away."
"The Cavs might have the best one-man show in the business, but that's not enough to take down the Dubs," Buckley wrote.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors will air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. Because it will be aired via broadcast, online viewers can freely stream the game live on WatchESPN.com or through the WatchESPN app.