NBA Game 1: Warriors Beat Cavaliers 108-100 In Overtime

Jun 5, 2015
Originally published on June 5, 2015 7:58 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It can be hard for major sporting events to live up to the hype these days, but Game 1 of the NBA Finals did just that. Last night in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108 to 100 in overtime. This game had it all - superstars doing super things, nailbiting swings of momentum and, at the very end, an injury that could have a major impact on the rest of the series. NPR's Tom Goldman took it all in and filed this report.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: David Blatt coaches the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he pretty much spoke for everyone who watched last night's game at Oracle Arena when he started his postgame press conference this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DAVID BLATT: OK, have we got any water here or anything?

GOLDMAN: Whether it was coaches in tailored suits or 19,596 spectators, most wearing gold T-shirts bearing the Warriors's slogan Strength In Numbers, people were parched and hoarse after 53 minutes of knockdown and get back up action. One of those T-shirt wearers was Don Nishibe of Oakland.

DON NISHIBE: Insane - can't take no more - tired. I got nothing more to give. I'm tired (laughter). Go home.

GOLDMAN: After Cleveland went out to a quick lead, as many as 14 points ahead in the first quarter, Golden State fought back and caught and tied the Cavs with about four minutes left in the half. From then on it went like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF NBA FINALS GAME 1)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

GOLDMAN: For every Oracle Arena shaking moment, like this 3-point bucket by 3-point shooter extraordinaire Steph Curry of the Warriors, there followed something like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF NBA FINALS GAME 1)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

(CHEERING STOPS)

GOLDMAN: An Oracle quieting moment by the Cavs; most of the time it was LeBron James doing the quieting. James, aka best player on the planet, scored 44 points from outside and in over a succession of Warriors defenders. And while he had his way with those offenders for much of the night, one of them, Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala, actually could hold up his head at night's end. Iguodala got the James assignment late in the game. As he squared off with the Cleveland superstar, Iguodala, who gives up about 50 pounds to James, remembered the defensive tips he learned as a rookie player.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDRE IGUODALA: NBA is about scoring. You got a lot of talented players, guys that are going to score the points. The thing to do is make it hard for them. Don't foul them. Make them take tough shots. Make their routes hard.

GOLDMAN: It worked pretty well. After James scored with two minutes 38 seconds left in regulation, he went scoreless the rest of the game until he converted a meaningless layup at the very end of overtime. The loss for Cleveland was made worse by a game-ending injury to point guard Kyrie Irving. He hurt his already ailing left knee. He's missed a few games during the postseason because of tendinitis, and he used the week-long break before last night's game to get better. Irving made some dazzling plays on both offense and defense last night. Obviously, he's key to the Cavs's success. And LeBron James, who's hardly panicking after a Game 1 loss, still sounded concerned about Cleveland's second-best player.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEBRON JAMES: You know, seeing him walk out of the locker room on crutches just now - it's a tough blow for our team.

GOLDMAN: Irving, who said afterwards he's a little worried, will have an MRI today. Game 2 is Sunday, an annoying delay perhaps for fans, but not for a player who hopes to mend again. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Oakland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.