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3 things we learned from Game 1 of the NBA Finals

This one stings.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers fell in overtime to the Golden State Warriors, 124-114. Here’s three things we learned in what was ultimately a disappointing ending.

1. LeBron James can drop 50, but it won’t make up for mental mistakes.

You couldn’t ask from anything else from James during this one. He put up a playoff-career-high 51 points, dished out eight assists and eight rebounds. But no matter how superhuman he is, the Warriors are too good and will find ways to capitalize on mental mistakes. The best two examples are courtesy of J.R. Smith.

To end the first half, he lost Stephen Curry in transition after going for a steal, giving the sharp-shooter the opportunity to tie the game with a 38-foot three-pointer. Then, at the end of regulation, there was Smith getting an offensive rebound off of a missed George Hill free throw with the game tied and dribbling the clock out because he didn’t know the score. The Warriors went on to outscore the Cavs 17-7 in overtime.

The reality of the situation is the Warriors are too organized and thrive off of their opponents’ chaos. James can drop 50 in each of the games that remain in this series, but the Cavs can’t afford to give the Warriors an inch when it comes to mental mistakes.

2. Golden State is probably at its best and most dangerous in the third quarter.

Talk about what has the potential to be a devastating combination for Cleveland. Golden State entered Game 1 with a plus-130 differential in third quarters throughout the 2018 playoffs. With the game tied after halftime, Golden State came out with a new fire and outscored the Cavs 28-22. Curry and Durant combined for 13 of those points.

So what is up with the disparity between their great third quarters and sub-par first quarters? It’s something that seems unclear even to them, but at this point, it’s a definite trend, and one that has the potential to stifle the Cavs pretty quickly.

3. Even if they aren’t lighting you up from behind the arc, the Warriors make up for it in transition.

The three-point disparity tonight wasn’t insane, a definite positive. The Cavs were 10-of-37 from deep, while the Warriors were 13-of-36. But even though the Warriors weren’t hitting, particularly early, they more than made up for things with running in transition.

In the first half, they outscored the Cavs 14-2 in fast break points, which allowed the Warriors to find somewhat of a groove. Curry and Klay Thompson ended up scoring 16 of Golden State’s 28 fast break points in Game 1. The Cavs need to play with pace, but they also need to be smart about it and not play rushed.

In the end, combining their efforts from three and in transition, the Warriors outscored the Cavs by 19.