By Maurice Dixon
With 8:34 left in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, ESPN analyst Mark Jackson said “they didn’t lie when they said Strength in NUMBERS.”
His comment about the Warriors’ slogan was dead on the mark like one of his pinpoint passes during the 90s as Golden State’s bench shined en route to a 104-89 home win for the defending champions over the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry (11 points) and Klay Thompson (9) didn’t even match the offensive output of Kyrie Irving (26 points), LeBron James (23) and Kevin Love (17) but the Warriors got solid play from the bench in the second quarter, survived an impressive third quarter by the Cavs and benefited from more great bench play in the fourth to push ahead by as many as 20 points in the closing frame.
Proving why I think he should have been listed higher in the Sixth Man of the Year standings, Shaun Livingston led Golden State with 20 points on a precise 8-of-10 shooting performance from the floor. Andre Iguodala added 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Leandro Barbosa added 11.
The Warriors’ bench outscored the Cavs’ reserves 45-10.
While Irving, James and Love all shot below 50 percent from the field, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes (UNC in the house) and Andrew Bogut all shot the ball well. Barnes got it going early in the first quarter on the way to finishing with 13 points. Like James, Green messed around and almost got a triple double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Role players are often known to play well at home and that certainly was the case at ORACLE Arena in Oakland on June 2.