Durant makes his mark in Game One
LeBron James had a simple explanation for what stood out in Game One of the NBA Finals: KD.
With a motivated Kevin Durant playing some of the best basketball of his career and taking the pressure off Stephen Curry, Golden State dominated Cleveland 113-91 in Game One on Thursday night and showed that Cavaliers-Warriors III might not look anything like the previous showdowns.
"You take one of the best teams that we had ever assembled last year, that we saw in the regular season and in the postseason, and then in the offseason you add a high-powered offensive talent like that and a great basketball IQ like that, that's what stands out," James said. "I mean, it's no if, ands, or buts. It is what it is. We've got to figure out how to combat that, which is going to be a tough challenge for us.
But that's what stands out."
Durant finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, didn't commit a single turnover and spent much of the night guarding James on the defensive end in an impressive return to the Finals stage five years after his only previous trip with Oklahoma City.
Durant lost to James and the Miami Heat in five games in 2012, and then James and the Cavs knocked off the 73-win Warriors in a seven-game thriller last June.
With Durant added to a mix that includes fellow All-Stars Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, this year's Warriors proved to be too tough for James and Cleveland to handle in Game one.
ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS
"He can just go get a bucket," Green said. "That's one of the things that we need, a guy who can go get a bucket, get to the foul line. ... That's huge for us. You are talking one of the best players in the game. To have a game like that when he's playing that way, it's tough to beat. Thirty-eight, 8, 8, zero turnovers? We're real tough to beat when he's doing that."
Durant played well in his first Finals trip but didn't have the help he has now with a two-time MVP in Curry, one of the league's best two-way players in Thompson, and a do-it-all demon like Green.
With his big output in Game One, Durant joined Hall of Famers Rick Barry, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to score at least 25 points in each of his first six Finals games.