The Latest: G League well represented at NBA Finals
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Latest from the NBA Finals and Thursday’s Game 1 (all times local):
The Golden State Warriors pulled out a 124-114 overtime victory over Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals after a bizarre ending to regulation.
The Warriors took advantage of their second chance, opening OT with a 9-0 run to blow it open.
LeBron James‘ highest-scoring postseason game was wasted, as he finished with 51 points.
Cleveland and Golden State are headed to overtime in Game 1 of what is LeBron James’ highest-scoring game ever in the NBA Finals.
George Hill made a free throw with 4.7 seconds to tie the game, but J.R. Smith apparently didn’t realize the game was tied when he grabbed the rebound of the missed second shot. Smith dribbled backward toward midcourt as teammates pointed toward the basket, and the Cavs couldn’t get a potential winning shot off.
James has 49 points.
The teams also went to OT in Game 1 in 2015, with the Warriors pulling out the victory after Kyrie Irving was injured.
The 3-pointers haven’t been falling much in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but the Warriors got a couple to go to give them a six-point lead heading to the final stretch.
Draymond Green, who had been struggling badly from outside, snapped a 94-all tie with a 3-pointer with a little more than 5 minutes left. Stephen Curry followed with one to give the Warriors a 100-94 advantage.
Curry has five 3-pointers but the Warriors are just 10 for 32 as a team.
LeBron James has 40 points for the Cavaliers.
Golden State tried to throw its third-quarter knockdown punch in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but Cleveland took it pretty well.
The Warriors lead 84-78 but it appeared it could be worse after they raced to a quick seven-point lead. Cleveland erased that but Golden State spurted away again a bit toward the end of what’s so often been its dominant period.
LeBron James went to the bench for his second break of the game after missing five straight shots in the quarter. He also matched Michael Jordan during the period by reaching 30 points for the 109th time in a postseason game.
JaVale McGee got his chance and is making the most of it.
The center was inserted into the starting lineup in the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals and is making an impact on both ends as the Warriors surged into a 66-59 lead.
McGee had played in only nine of Golden State’s 17 games entering the NBA Finals -and only three minutes total in the Western Conference finals- but was sent out with the first unit when the teams returned from the locker rooms.
He played terrific defense on LeBron James on one possession, and later had two baskets to spark another impressive third-quarter start for the Warriors.
Stephen Curry got the Warriors back to even, and now they get ready for their favorite part of the game.
Curry drained a 3-ponter from about 30 feet to beat the halftime buzzer, tying Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at 56-all. Golden State had trailed by 11 points earlier in the second quarter before a strong finish.
Curry had 18 points, while LeBron James led all scorers with 24.
Now the teams regroup before a quarter the Warriors dominate. They have outscored opponents 519-389 in the postseason, a difference of 130 points, and turned around both Game 6 and 7 against Houston in the Western Conference finals with huge runs in that period.
LeBron James actually got a rest in the NBA Finals.
After playing all 48 minutes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, James sat down midway through the second quarter.
He earned it. James had 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting to carry Cleveland to a 51-45 lead over Golden State.
But Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year’s NBA Finals, is struggling. He started 2 for 8 for six points, missing all three 3-point attempts. Stephen Curry was keeping the Warriors close with 15 points.
The Cavaliers have the lead but the Warriors appear to have good news.
Klay Thompson returned from the locker room just before the first quarter ended with Cleveland leading 30-29. The All-Star guard missed about half the period after J.R. Smith slid into his left leg while trying to intercept a pass, knocking Thompson to the court.
He got treatment for what the Warriors said was a left lateral leg contusion and returned to the bench to cheers as the period was about to end.
LeBron James had 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting, while Stephen Curry had 11 for the Warriors. Both teams had to be pleased with their starts after falling behind early and having to climb back in their Game 7 victories in the conference finals.
Golden State guard Klay Thompson has gone to the locker room, limping gingerly after J.R. Smith slid hard into the Warriors left leg at the 6:17 mark of the first quarter.
Thompson lay grimacing in pain, slapping his hands on the court immediately after the play. Thompson appeared to injure the same left knee he hurt in the Western Conference finals.
Smith was making a play on the ball when he seemed to unintentionally undercut Thompson, who did return to the Warriors’ bench after being treated in the locker room.
The NBA Finals are underway at what’s become their usual starting spot.
It’s the fourth straight season Golden State is hosting Cleveland in Game 1. No teams had ever met this many consecutive times in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball or the NHL in the championship round.
The Cavaliers had their preferred starting lineup, with Kevin Love cleared to return from a concussion that forced him to sit out Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. But the Warriors can’t turn to 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, who remains sidelined by a bone bruise in his leg.
Cleveland has dropped Game 1 in two of its series in this postseason, and all three NBA Finals matchups with the Warriors.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says he is being treated for anxiety and that the NBA playoffs bring him so much joy.
Lue said before Game 1 of the NBA Finals that he realizes there are so many people dealing with challenges in life, so his story may help others.
Lue took a leave of absence on March 19 for health reasons and when he returned April 5 acknowledged he experienced ”piercing” chest pains during two games this season.
The coach says he has heard from many people offering support since his ESPN interview during which he revealed the anxiety.
Lue says ”the biggest thing is that I feel good and talking to my doctor, one of my happy places is the playoffs.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he spoke with Lue by phone and traded text messages with him. Kerr says his main message to Lue was that ”you can’t allow what feels like the enormity of the job to interfere with your health and your recovery and whatever you need to do. I just told him the team will still be there when you get back … just kind of a reminder that we’re playing a sport.”
LeBron James always wears shorts at work.
For Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he wore shorts TO work.
The fashion-forward James showed up at Oracle Arena on Thursday night wearing jacket, shirt, tie, boots – and shorts.
”No comment,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said, grinning.
Cleveland and Golden State are playing for the following: The NBA championship, bragging rights, the chance to host a parade, rings, banners, cool hats and T-shirts.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off in about 3 hours and the league’s playoff pool will richly reward the champion this year. The winning team in these NBA Finals will get $1,194,949 more in bonus money than the losing team in this matchup.
The total pool was $20 million this season, paid out to all 16 postseason teams based on how they finished in the regular season and how deep they went in the playoffs.
Golden State will get $5,188,122 if it wins, $3,993,173 if it loses. Cleveland splits $5,020,439 if it wins, $3,825,490 if it loses.
From the non-finals teams, Houston gets the biggest share of the pie, with $2,322,122 going to the Rockets. Milwaukee, San Antonio, Minnesota and Washington all get the smallest amount, that being $298,485 each.
The Warriors are bigger favorites in Game 1 of the NBA Finals than they were for most other home games this season.
Golden State was favored by 12 1/2 points as of Thursday morning. According to Pregame.com, the Warriors were favored by a margin that large in only 12 of their 50 games at Oracle Arena, counting the postseason.
The Warriors have won Game 1 in each of the previous three NBA Finals matchups with the Cavaliers, all at Oracle Arena, by an average of 15 points.
Overall, Pregame.com says the odds give Golden State an 89 percent chance to win the title, making the Cavaliers the biggest NBA Finals underdogs since Philadelphia against the Lakers in 2001. Los Angeles won that series in five games.
The G League is now a road to not just the NBA, but the NBA Finals.
There are a combined 11 players on the Cleveland and Golden State rosters that have spent time in the G League, and seven who were in that league at some point this season.
Many of those G League alums are likely to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Kevon Looney, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook have been regulars for the Warriors in these playoffs, as has Jordan Clarkson been for the Cavaliers.
The NBA says 53 percent of the players on rosters at the end of the regular season were in the G League at some point.
The NBA Finals start up right where they finished last year.
And right where they’ve opened every year since 2015.
Golden State hosts Cleveland on Thursday night to begin the record fourth straight meeting between the teams. It’s the first time in NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL history that the same teams are meeting four straight times in the championship round.
The Warriors have had home-court advantage each time and won Game 1 in all three series. They went on to win last year’s title in five games.
Golden State will be without 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala as he continues to recover from a bone bruise in his left knee. The Cavaliers are waiting to see if Kevin Love will be cleared to play after missing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals with a concussion.
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