OAKLAND -- Here are three factors -- besides the obvious production from Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry -- that helped the Warriors post a 113-91 win over Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors committed four turnovers, their lowest total through 13 games this postseason as well as the entirety of the 82-game regular season.
This is the kind of ball security that warms the heart of ailing head coach Steve Kerr.
“I give our guys credit,” acting head coach Mike Brown said. “Steve just said it to our guys at the end of the game: We had a formula, and our guys did a nice job trying to follow it. And he gave them credit.
“He's talked from day one about winning the possession game, and our guys had four turnovers for the course of the game. That's a good defensive team and they're active and athletic and long and anticipate really well. So for them to be able to jump the passing lanes like they have in the past and so on and so forth, for our guys to go out there for 48 minutes and have four turnovers, that was fantastic.”
The Warriors won by 23. They gave the Cavaliers only six points off the four turnovers, while scoring 21 points off 20 Cleveland giveaways.
DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
The Warriors came into the series believing defense would be the key to success. It surely looked that way in Game 1, as they held the Cavs to 34.9 percent from the field -- and a stifling 30.2 in the second half.
It’s another element of the formula Kerr and his staff believes will work against any team: Play nasty defense, and the offense will follow.
“It all starts from getting stops,” Durant said. “We get stops, we worry about defense first, and offensively we can move the ball around, drive and kick and try to find shots as well. So I'm more focused on defense.”
Despite being outrebounded, 59-50, the Warriors put up 20 more shots than Cleveland. Credit goes to their defense for generating most of them.
They also outscored the Cavs 27-8 in transition points, which on the surface suggests an offensive juggernaut.
“The best thing about tonight, obviously, was just our defensive presence and effort for 48 minutes,” Curry said.
LeBron James (9-of-20 from the field) and Kyrie Irving (10-of-22) aside, Cleveland shot 25 percent (11-of-44) from the field.
One of the keys to beating the Cavaliers to keep hyper-aggressive rebounding center Tristan Thompson off the glass, particularly on the offensive end.
Behind solid play and smart tactics of center Zaza Pachulia, along with help from Draymond Green and Durant, the Warriors excelled. Thompson grabbed four rebounds and his general ineffectiveness limited him to 22 minutes.
“Another thing we talked about was keeping them off the offensive glass and Tristan Thompson's a load,” Brown said. “He's been destroying almost everyone he's come across in the playoffs on the offensive glass. Zaza Pachulia didn't play a ton of minutes, but the minutes he played, especially at the beginning of the game, kind of set the tone for us on the offensive glass.”
Thompson played all 12 minutes of the opening quarter, grabbing one rebound.
Green hauled in 11 rebounds in 36 minutes, Pachulia six in 14 minutes.