The biggest conversation going into the Finals was about how "LeBron will be great, Kyrie will be good, but what about the rest of the Cavs?" In game one, the answer was a confused "there are other players on the Cavs?"
Cleveland hung in the game early despite an outrageous amount of turnovers. At halftime, the Cavaliers only trailed by eight points. However, they had 12 turnovers before the break to Golden State's one. In the end, it was a 113-91 victory for the Warriors.
As advertised, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving flashed brilliance throughout the game. LeBron had a double-double in the first 24 minutes of the game and Kyrie occasionally looked the scoring machine that he looked like against Boston, but the rest of the Cavaliers were complete no-shows. Through three quarters, Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson, and JR Smith had six points. Combined. In game one of the NBA Finals. Some of this was Golden State's defense, some of it was luck, and some of it was the apparent lack of any sort of offensive plan.
Golden State spent all game pulling down offensive rebounds and getting dunks - they had double-digits in each of those categories by halftime. The Cavaliers spent all game allowing dunks and failing to crash the glass. Kevin Love got a whole mess of defensive rebounds but failed on multiple occasions to back down Klay Thompson in the post.
The Cavs made occasional bite-sized runs to cut a 21 point lead to 12 or a 20 point lead to 13 in the second half, but nothing mattered. When shots like this go in, it's time to pack it in for the night.
What the Cavaliers failed to do in game one was stick to any kind of plan offensively. The game started with a predictable toss to Kevin Love in the post which was promptly denied (by Klay) and turned into an airball. The Cavs decided to start working with screens to get switches. Except they didn't use those screens.
Over and over, LeBron would have Curry's guy set a screen for him, eye up Curry, then wait until the screens were cleared and Curry scrambled back to his man. It made no sense whatsoever. He didn't attack Curry at all. Everyone has known that this would be the Cavs' best chance at success, but it just didn't happen. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson spent most of the game on Kyrie Irving, who was able to get to the rim regardless of the defender, but the punch-line was that Curry managed to hide on defense for most of the game.
Around James and Irving, the Cavs barely moved. This was part of the plan over the past two Finals, but it felt like an accident today. Guys looked confused. Tristan Thompson seemed as though he'd never seen a double-team before. JR Smith hit a three 93 seconds into the game and never scored again. Everything was one-on-one, and when that doesn't work, it looks terrible.
As noted before, one-on-one isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Cavs in the big picture. In the small picture of game one, it was a disaster.
When all was said and done, the Cavs turned the ball over 20 times (James had eight, seven in the first half), shot 36% from the field, and recorded zero steals. Cavaliers players not named James or Irving were 11-44 shooting the ball. For their part, the Warriors turned it over four times (an NBA Finals record), had 31 assists as a team, and seemingly dunked on every possession in the entire first half.
In short, the Cavaliers were abysmal in game one.
On the bright side, the Cavaliers lost game one in 2016 by 15 points and lost game two by 33 points. We all know how that one turned out. Not all is lost.