The highly anticipated NBA Finals got underway on Thursday night in Game 1 between the Warriors and Cavaliers – the third straight time the two teams have met for the championship. The game didn’t go as Cleveland had hoped, falling to the Warriors 113-91.
Kevin Durant had a terrific performance, as did Steph Curry, but LeBron James got very little help from his supporting cast. On Friday’s episode of “Undisputed,” Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe reacted to Golden State’s resounding win over the Cavs.
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron can't guard Kevin Durant
"My biggest takeaway from what happened last night was that Golden State can play much better than that on offense than they did last night because you guys know, what did they miss at the rim? About 10 little bunnies at the rim that should’ve gone in? And yet they still won by 23. … Draymond and Klay, they combined to go 6-for-28 last night, 1-for-10 from three, and they still won by 23. And my man Zaza, who ended my Spurs’ season -- Zaza turned down three early, easy shots. … And, would you believe that Golden State actually missed five more shots than Cleveland did, and that Cleveland actually made nine more free throws than Cleveland did, and LeBron still lost by 23 points last night, which brings me to my bottom line.
"Guess what, America? LeBron James can no longer guard Kevin Durant. That’s it. Bottom line. Five years ago, in the 2012 Finals – LeBron’s breakthrough after nine years in the league – he finally won his first ring. He owned Kevin Durant, who then played for the Oklahoma City Baby Thunder with Baby Russell and Baby Harden. Since then, we’ve had a changing of the guard. LeBron James looked like what you’d usually call my Spurs: old and slow. You want to talk about getting blown by, I’m thinking, ‘LeBron, you trying to set up another chase-down block because you can’t catch him?’ "
Cary EdmondsonCary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron's defense isn't what it once was
"Fourteen years in the league, his defense is declining before your very eyes. He’s just not quick and strong enough to keep Kevin Durant from the rim anymore. And again, he’s having to play both ends of the court because I kept reminding you, what happened to Harrison Barnes in the last three games of the Finals last year, where he had the big three turnaround games. You know what happened: he shot 5-for-32 and 3-for-15 from three. So LeBron could basically ignore Harrison Barnes and say, ‘I’m gonna roam, I’m gonna disrupt on defense.’ Last night, he had to play both ends and he got played by Kevin Durant on both ends.
"The stat of the night was that the best player on the planet had the worst plus-minus of any player on the floor last night. He was a minus-22 was King James. Really? And in the second quarter alone, he had six turnovers – just in the second quarter, which was almost seven. Bottom line: I’m going to give you a chance here on national TV to flip your pick, because seriously, you said Cavs in six. So that means the Cavs are going to win four of the next five games? That’s not possible."
Cary EdmondsonCary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
You can't give the Warriors extra possessions
"You said all of a sudden Durant owned King James, even though his record now is 18-6 against LeBron. So after one game, you’re willing to base this on one game? So what did the Warriors accomplish last night? They held serve at home. Isn’t that what the home team’s supposed to do? The series doesn’t start until the home team loses. All the Cavs can hope for is to split one of these two. They get another chance on Sunday. You know that, I know that.
"Here’s what I saw. The Cavs had 20 turnovers, the Warriors had four. The Cavs had 15 assists, the Warriors had 31. Minus-26 in point paint. You cannot give the Warriors that many extra possessions, that many cracks at you. They might’ve out-shot them by 10, but how many more did they make? When you take 20 more shots, and you shoot 40 percent from the field, that’s 16 extra points, and that’s only if you make 2s."
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Steph was great, but Durant was the difference
"You know Steph Curry has it cooking. Transition defense was awful last night. How many dunks did Kevin Durant have in the first half? Six. How many layups? Three. They let Steph Curry bring the ball up and walk into wide-open 3s. He was the Steph Curry that we’re used to seeing in the regular season the past two years, and he played very well this regular season.
"The difference in the ballgame was Kevin Durant. LeBron cannot roam. But this is what I do know will happen: They will make adjustments. The Cavs will not play as bad as they did in Game 1. We’ll see if the Warriors can shoot the ball as well as they did last night. Zaza going up-and-under the rim, not looking at the basket, and flips it in. Come on, Skip. Really? Zaza.
"You keep talking about Draymond and Klay, how bad they played. J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver and Deron Williams. How many points did they combine for? Three. Tristan Thompson, any time he gives us six to eight points, that’s a bonus. But he can’t give us zero points and only four rebounds. He needs to be in the double-digit rebound category because JaVale McGee played five minutes and had five rebounds. … I’m not concerned about this. Nothing happened. I didn’t think the Cavs would win this ballgame, especially Game 1. But if they get a split, now we see what happens going back to Cleveland."
Kelley L CoxKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron gives the Cavs a chance
"If you take a 73-win team, and add the second-best player in the NBA, obviously they’re going to be a better team. Now I thought it would take them until the All-Star break for them to mesh together, but they started a lot sooner, and then when Kevin went out, Steph’s like, ‘Hold on, I’m the two-time MVP. I don’t have to defer to anybody.’ He got his confidence back and now KD came back and blended right in. The Cavs know they have an uphill challenge. But I’m not concerned because you know why? I got the best player on the planet, and any time you have him, you got a chance."
Getty ImagesGetty Images
I was happy for Durant
"I couldn’t help being happy for Kevin last night. I know he’s taken a lot of heat, but I told you I couldn’t condemn him for saying, going into his 10th year, ‘I’m gonna go maximize my chances to get a ring.’ And did he not back it up last night? He had a Bay Area mountain range of pressure on him last night. He had the weight of the NBA world watching him on his shoulders last night. And not only did he come through, but when he finally sat down, he was thinking in the back of his mind, ‘Gee, I almost had a triple-double in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.’ "
Don't condemn Durant for chasing a ring
"I couldn’t condemn him because we’ve added so much pressure to guys getting rings, but when they go chase the rings, we question the manner in which they got the ring. Everything is a ring right now. If the numbers are similar – points, rebounds and assists – we say, ‘Oh, well he doesn’t have a ring.’ Kevin Durant is like, ‘Well, you’re not going to say I’m the best player in the NBA and not have a ring.’ He goes and joins a 73-win team, and everybody says, ‘How can you join a team that beat you?’
"If you didn’t put so much pressure on a ring, because now, a guy has no value if he doesn’t have a ring. And Kevin Durant said, ‘I want to have value,’ and he went and chased a ring. I don’t have a problem with it. You just look at the situation with a 73-win team and they add the second-best player in the league. That would be like Julio Jones going and joining the Patriots."
Pool PhotoPool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Game 2 prediction
Shannon: [Cavs] are gonna win Game 2.
Skip: You told me they were gonna win Game 1.
Shannon: Ok, I was off, Skip. I told you they were gonna win the Finals last year. They went down 0-2, down 3-1 and you were over there with your pom-poms, and what happened?