OAKLAND — Steph Curry got another eager defender in the air and calmly drew contact while rising for a shot. Whistle. Two shots to come. It was the second time in less than 46 seconds the world’s best shooter leveraged that supreme threat into free throws, the type of simple basketball plays easily lost in his assemblage of highlight-reel shots and shakes.
The Golden State Warriors led the Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-98, with 2:30 remaining in overtime. Oakland’s raucous crowd was excited, but notably subdued compared to so many other points throughout a classic Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Golden State followers could sense their team wasn’t quite on its way to sure victory yet; not following 48 minutes of watching a four-time MVP will the underdog opponents to a near win in regulation.
After Curry was barely nudged by Kyrie Irving, he turned the other direction and slowly walked toward midcourt. The 27-year-old stretched his arms, put his hands in the air, and appealed to his faithful for more encouragement.
And as 20,000 blue-and-gold-clad fans rose to roar back at their hero, it was never easier to believe in the Warriors’ rallying cry. “Strength in Numbers” is more than a hackneyed public-relations slogan after all.
Golden State outscored Cleveland 10-2 in an absolutely dominant extra session Thursday night, winning Game 1 of these highly anticipated Finals, 108-100. Curry scored 26 points (10-20 FGs, 2-6 3PTs) and dished eight assists to lead the Warriors, while LeBron James poured in 44 points (18-38 FGs, 2-8 3PTs), grabbed eight rebounds, and doled-out six assists of his own in an individual performance for the ages that will too easily be forgotten.