Welcome to the NBA Finals and the much-anticipated matchup between Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Oh, and the Warriors and the Cavs. After each game, Slate will be answering an important question: Who did it better?
A question that raises a question: Who did what better? Well, that depends. Not which player had the most points or the best night, necessarily. Instead, we will highlight a series of unbelievable moves or a game-changing moment. All eyes are on Curry, the reigning MVP, and James, the four-time MVP who’s making his fifth straight NBA Finals appearance. So it will often be something one of them did. But with a series full of this much talent, we don’t want to limit ourselves. We’d be remiss to leave out a performance like J.R. Smith’s 28-point effort against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, or Harrison Barnes’ clutch performance in the Western Conference Finals.
So who did it come down to in Game 1, a 108-100 overtime win for Golden State? Well, Curry and James. James turned in an incredible performance with 44 points and eight rebounds, but Curry gets the nod for “Who seized the momentum?”
With both teams showing signs of their long layoff between the conference finals and the Finals, the game got off to a rocky start with bad shots at both ends. But James was steady, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and getting the Cavs out to a 29-19 lead.
But Curry shook off the nerves from playing in his first NBA Finals at an opportune time. In the second quarter, after his teammates had cut the Cavs’ lead to 36-33, Curry nailed a trademark 3-pointer to tie the game. He then stole the ball, hit another 3, then, after a series of misses by both teams, drove for a layup. Eight points in less than 90 seconds, giving the Warriors a 41-36 lead. Just watch:
That sequence didn’t decide the game. But it took control away from the Cavs, and made it a back-and-forth contest the rest of the way.