Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry Light Up LeBron James, Cavaliers in Game 1 Win

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 1:  Kevin Durant #35 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors high five during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game One of the 2017 NBA Finals on June 1, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Kevin Durant made his first NBA Finals appearance since 2012 on Thursday night, and he didn't waste any time imposing his will. In the Golden State Warriors' commanding 113-91 Game 1 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Durant finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead a dominant effort. 

Matched up against a Cavaliers defense that was hell-bent on containing the three-point line, Durant repeatedly romped his way to the rim and wreaked havoc on the Oracle Arena iron to set the tone for a blowout that took shape after halftime. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

KD was automatic in Game 1. https://t.co/r3dO7U8vOJ

After leading by eight at the break, the Warriors erupted in the third quarter and outscored the defending champions 33-20 to take a 21-point lead entering the fourth. 

Stephen Curry helped facilitate that eruption, and he finished with 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting (6-of-11 from three), including a pull-up from well beyond the arc to thrust the Warriors ahead by 19 in the closing stages of the third: 

The spotlight, though, shined brightest on Durant. 

In his return to the game's biggest stage, KD not only led the Warriors in scoring, but he also did so in a ferocious manner early and often: 

With the lane serving as a launching pad for Durant's above-the-rim antics, Twitter predictably erupted in response to the Cavs' porous defense: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport


J.E. Skeets @jeskeets

Can't get beat by the 3-ball if you give 'em wide open dunks. https://t.co/cogTUycBVx

maurice @tallmaurice

"okay...i mean i guess i see why he left..." #NBAFinals https://t.co/jrGF4bbLcH

Shea Serrano @SheaSerrano

Finals Durant is a very intimidating version of durant

All told, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 56-30 in the paint as they followed Durant's lead en route to a comfortable 1-0 series edge. 

As for the Cavaliers, LeBron James stuffed the stat sheet with 28 points (9-of-20 shooting), 15 rebounds and eight assists. He also got in on the first-quarter dunkfest with a jaw-dropping slam over JaVale McGee: 

However, the Cavaliers were too careless to match the Warriors' firepower. 

Not only did James rack up eight turnovers by himself, but Cleveland also committed 20 total compared to 15 assists as a team. Conversely, the Warriors finished with 31 dimes and four giveaways in a far more efficient display. 

A lack of scoring balance proved costly as well. 

Although Kyrie Irving (24 points) and Kevin Love (15 points) finished in double figures, no player outside of the Cavaliers' star-studded triumvirate finished with more than three made field goals. 

As Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel noted, those shortcomings put extra pressure on LeBron: 

Dan Wetzel @DanWetzel

LeBron's going to be able to sit for about 43 seconds a game in this series.

Now looking ahead to Game 2, the Cavaliers will have to devise a more disciplined plan of attack on both ends if they want to have a shot at matching the Warriors' firepower. 

That showdown will get underway at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday night before the scene shifts to Quicken Loans Arena for Games 3 and 4.  


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