OAKLAND – A late mental mistake from JR Smith cost the Cleveland Cavaliers an upset win. Instead, it was the Golden State Warriors who were victorious, winning 124-114 in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
With 4.7 seconds left in regulation, Cavaliers guard George Hill went to the free throw line to try and give Cleveland the lead. Hill went 1-of-2 from the line and Smith grabbed the rebound. However, instead of going back up for a shot, he would go out towards the perimeter to dribble out the clock with the game tied at 107.
”He thought it was over. He thought we were up one,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.
The ABC camera’s caught Smith telling LeBron James “I thought we were ahead” as they walked back to the bench. However, after the game was over, Smith had a different story to tell the media.
“I knew we were tied, I thought we were going to call timeout,” he said. “If I thought we were ahead, I’d have held onto the ball and let them foul me.”
By the time Smith gave the ball back to Hill, it was too late. The time had expired and the game was sent into overtime.
From there, it would be all Warriors.
Golden State outscored 17-7 in the extra five minutes as they survived a Game 1 scare from Cleveland to open a Finals series that many picked to be over in four or five games.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 29 points and Kevin Durant added 26 despite having a poor shooting night, going 8-for-22 from the floor. Klay Thompson shook off an early injury to score 24 points while Draymond Green added 13.
Meanwhile, for the Cavaliers, they played much better than anyone expected. Cleveland led by as many as 11 points in the first half and outscored the Warriors 29-23 in the fourth quarter. LeBron James continued his superhuman performances by scoring 51 points, shooting 19-of-32 to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists.
Kevin Love added 21 points and Smith chipped in 10 for Cleveland, who is playing in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.
Towards the end of the game saw tempers flare. Kevin Durant was called for an offensive foul before officials reviewed the call and then overturned it, awarding Durant two free throws.
“I knew I had my man beat and he came over a little late,” Durant said. “When they called it a charge, I was a little surprised, but I was glad they reviewed it.”
In overtime, Tristan Thompson was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 after making contact with Draymond Green’s face. However, Lue was still fuming from the overturned call in the fourth quarter following the game.
“For our team to come out and play their hearts out, play their ass off, it ain’t right,” he said.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Oakland and for the Cavs to get a split, LeBron said his team can not look to the past.
”We’ve got to move on,” James said. ”This game is over and done with. We had opportunities.”