Key Golden State trends from dominant Game 1 victory

The Golden State Warriors opened the NBA Finals with a statement game, as they dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers on their way to a 113-91 victory. While some of the underlying trends indicate that Cleveland will play better going forward, the Warriors controlled this game in a manner that was disheartening to Cavaliers fans around the world.

The Golden State Warriors rode a 12-0 start to the playoffs into the NBA Finals, but their toughest challenge of these playoffs lay ahead of them. The Cleveland Cavaliers started the playoffs 10-0. They would have also entered the Finals with a perfect record barring a sick day from LeBron and Marcus Smart's ridiculous outlier of a performance from beyond the arc. With more than a week of rest entering tonight's game and a poor start to Game 1 against the Spurs, Golden State could easily have opened the Finals with a dud.

However, the Warriors demolished the Cavaliers on both ends of the floor en route to a 113-91 victory. Golden State missed a number of layups in the first half but still led 60-52 after two-quarters. They then blew the doors off with a spectacular third quarter performance. While some elements of this game will be nearly impossible to repeat (a fantastic sign for any Cavaliers fans), the Warriors have the decided advantage heading into a critical Game 2 on Sunday night.

1. Battle of the role players 

The 2017 Finals features seven All-Stars from this year's game in New Orleans, but the less-heralded players on each roster had a massive impact on the result of Game 1. For the Warriors, their secondary pieces factored in across the board. Andre Iguodala dispelled any lingering injury concerns with some solid offensive contributions and great defense on LeBron James. JaVale McGee grabbed five rebounds, including three offensive boards, and made two of three shots in only six minutes. Shaun Livingston made only one of his five shots, but he kept the offense humming with and without Steph Curry on the floor with him.

The role players for Cleveland, on the other hand, had a miserable Game 1 in Oakland. J.R. Smith scored the game's first points on a shot from deep--and then did not score again. Kyle Korver failed to score in 20 minutes of playing time. Deron Williams played 19 minutes and also did not score. Tristan Thompson did not score either and grabbed only four rebounds in 22 minutes. While his ability to switch screens and defend in space makes him worth major minutes despite his offensive shortcomings, it is nonetheless concerning that he finished last among Cleveland rotation players with a Defensive Rating of 132.8. That number does scream "small sample size" but Thompson should never have the worst defensive numbers among Cleveland's rotation players.

The old saying says that role players always play better at home, and that was certainly the case in this game. However, if Cleveland's role players are this subpar on Sunday night Cleveland will have a very tough road ahead of them.

2. Ball control 

The Golden State Warriors are the league's deadliest transition team. Their willingness to run at nearly any opportunity, combined with their lethal shooting from deep, makes them nearly impossible to guard when they are on the run.

Cleveland did everything they could to feed the Warriors' transition game, as they committed 20 turnovers in Game 1. LeBron James was responsible for eight of those miscues.

On the other side of the ball, the Warriors turned the ball over just four times in the opening game of the Finals. That mark tied the record for fewest turnovers in any Finals game. All four of those were unforced errors, as Cleveland somehow finished the game without a single steal.

It would be basically impossible for the turnover margin to be anywhere near that wide in Game 2. A smaller gulf between their respective turnover numbers will not be enough to swing the game on its own. However, cutting down that turnover differential will help Cleveland to keep the scoring margin closer on both ends of the floor.

3. KD 1, LeBron 0

LeBron James put together a solid performance in Game 1. While he missed a couple of defensive rotations, he was still one of Cleveland's better players on that end of the floor. He turned the ball over eight times, but also grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out eight assists to go along with his 28 points. His performance did not live up to the ridiculous pace of his 2017 playoffs thus far, but his first game in Oakland was still a top-notch performance.

However, LeBron was thoroughly outplayed by the man who has been living in his shadow for basically his entire NBA career. Kevin Durant put up 38 points on 26 shots, along with grabbing eight rebounds and handing out eight assists. Durant became just the third player in NBA history to score 35+ points without turning the ball over in a Finals game. He also did this to his old rival: