LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, pictured at ORACLE Arena on June 1, 2017 in Oakland, California, still have a chance to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. Getty Images

Following Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, plenty of basketball fans are ready to throw dirt on the Cleveland Cavaliers. They looked utterly outmatched in the series opener, and a clean sweep of the entire playoffs seems to be a real possibility for the Golden State Warriors.

Can the Cavs actually come back to beat the Warriors and win their second straight championship? Golden State is rightfully the heavy favorite, but dismissing Cleveland’s chances after just one loss would be a mistake.

READ: Ranking The 10 Best Players In The 2017 NBA Finals

Golden State’s 113-91 rout wasn’t all that surprising in many ways. They’ve gone undefeated in the playoffs after completing the best three-year stretch in the history of the regular season. The Warriors are even better than last year’s team after adding Kevin Durant, and they might ultimately prove to be too much for LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

However, there are a few reasons why the 2017 NBA Finals are far from over.

2016 NBA Finals

The Warriors did what they were supposed to do in Game 1, taking care of business on their home court against the underdog. It’s the same thing they did a year ago when they ended up losing the series to the Cavs.

Game 1 of the 2016 finals was a little more competitive than Thursday’s contest, but the end result was the nearly the same as the Cavs lost by 15 points. Game 2 was a complete blowout as Golden State cruised to 110-77 victory and many considered Cleveland to be dead in the water. Two weeks later, the Cavs were crowned NBA Champions.

That’s not to say Thursday’s loss wasn’t in the least bit concerning, but James has been in this position plenty of times before. As heavy favorites in the 2012 finals, Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat James and the Miami Heat by double-digits in Game 1 before losing the next four games. James and the Heat dropped Game 1 of the finals at home the next year before successfully defending their championship against the San Antonio Spurs.

In fact, the only time James’ team won Game 1 of the finals was in 2011 when the Heat were upset by the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Klay Thompson Continues to Struggle

As good as Durant and Stephen Curry were on the offensive end in Game 1, that’s how poorly Thompson played. The shooting guard scored just six points on three-of-16 shooting, missing all five of his three-point attempts. It was more of the same for Thompson, who’s shot so poorly for the entire postseason that he has the worst PER of all 37 players that have totaled at least 300 minutes in this year’s playoffs.

Thompson was awful at times in last year’s finals, as well. It’s been enough of a sample size to wonder if he will regain his shooting touch before the finals conclude. The Warriors can certainly win the title with a struggling Thompson, considering he’s the team’s fourth-best player and they’ve done just fine this postseason without a major contribution from him, but it does give Cleveland a better chance to pull off the upset.

Despite his outstanding defense, Thompson’s shooting woes even the playing field somewhat in the finals. The Cavs can put their three All-Stars up against Durant, Curry and Draymond Green if Thompson and his 22.3 points per game in the regular season are no longer the same threat.


There were plenty of reasons why the Warriors blew out the Cavs in Game 1. Durant was incredible, James’ supporting cast shot poorly from the field and Cleveland’s defense was overwhelmed by Golden State. But the turnover differential stood out more than anything, and it’s not something that will continue for the rest of the series.

The Cavs turned the ball over 20 times, highlighted by James’ seven giveaways in the first half. The Warriors, on the other hand, had just four turnovers, tying the record for the fewest in NBA Finals history. That allowed Golden State to take 20 more shots than Cleveland, and the Cavs have no chance when surrendering that many more opportunities.

During the playoffs, the two teams have turned the ball over at almost an identical rate. Golden State is averaging 13.0 turnovers per contest, while Cleveland is coming in at 13.4. Durant committed no turnovers in Game 1 after totaling 12 in his previous two games, and Curry’s two turnovers were half of what he averaged in the Western Conference Finals.

Look for turnover differential, as well as Golden State’s margin of victory, to shrink as the series moves along.