Thanks to some outstanding performances from their non-superstar players, the Golden State Warriors took Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Will the Warriors jump out to a 2-0 series lead, or will the Cavs steal home-court advantage from Golden State? Here are three questions and a prediction for Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which begins at 5 p.m. on ABC15:
1. Can Irving and Love get going?
LeBron James did his part in Game 1 (23 points on 9 of 21 shooting along with 12 rebounds, nine assists), but the other two members of Cleveland's "Big Three" had an uneven performance. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving combined for just 14 of 39 shooting from the floor, and their combined percentage of 33.3 percent from 3-point range was well below their postseason average of 45 percent. Can the duo make a larger impact in Game 2?
2. Will Curry and Thompson step up?
The Warriors won Game 1 despite the Splash Brothers' surprisingly quiet performance in Game 1. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 20 points, their lowest combined point total in two years. Golden State won thanks to a fantastic performance from its role players and bench, but a repeat performance is unlikely. Will Curry and Thompson play like the superstars they are and help the Warriors jump out to a 2-0 series lead?
3. Whose bench will shine?
The Warriors' bench outscored Cleveland's by a 35-point margin (45-10) in Game 1, the most lopsided bench disparity in the NBA Finals in 50 years (beating out Boston's 34-point margin against the Suns in 1976). If the Cavs want to get even, they've got to get more production from their reserves, including from former Sun Channing Frye, who scored just two points in Game 1. Can Cleveland's bench do its part this time around?
It certainly wasn't shocking to watch the Warriors take Game 1, but the way it happened (with lackluster games from Curry and Thompson) was almost unthinkable. The Cavs will almost certainly be sharper from top to bottom Sunday, but it's tough to imagine the Splash Brothers being quiet for two straight games. Look for them, along with the Warriors' deafening home crowd, to do enough to give Golden State a two-game series cushion as the series heads back to Cleveland on Wednesday.
Warriors 105, Cavaliers 99