In a series no one anticipated being relatively competitive, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors put on a game for the ages Thursday night. The Cavaliers went toe-to-toe with the Warriors’ unstoppable juggernaut (minus Andre Iguodala) and tamed their high-flying offense with a dazzling display of defense and will.
However, all the heroics that superstar LeBron James could muster weren’t enough to overcome the Warriors and his own Cavalier teammate, J.R. Smith. After a foul committed by Klay Thompson on George Hill sent Hill to the free throw line with 4.7 seconds remaining in regulation and Cleveland down by one, the Cavaliers were two made free throws and a quick defensive stop away from one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history. Hill made the first free throw to tie at the score at 107 apiece, but missed the second. That’s when it began to go downhill for the Eastern Conference Champions.
The second free throw hit the front of the rim and landed in Smith’s hands. Instead of calling for a timeout, with just over four seconds remaining, he ran back out to the three-point line and awaited a foul that never came. LeBron, who was also seen signaling to the scorer’s table for a timeout, tried to alert Smith to shoot, but by the time he got the ball to George Hill for a desperation corner three-point attempt, time had expired.
Twitter showed no mercy towards the inexplicable miscue:
Jr is on that henny lol pic.twitter.com/0GBhgXjVyt— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 1, 2018
Smith claimed he knew the score was tied, but in replay, he’s seen mouthing ”I thought we were ahead…” to James.
Once the Warriors were let off the hook, there was no looking back in the overtime period. Golden State blitzed Cleveland 17-7 in the extra period and took Game 1. At the end of the game, things got a little chippy as the Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson took exception to Shaun Livingston‘s shot with little time left and the game decided, and threw an elbow towards him. Thompson was immediately ejected and then got physical with Draymond Green, shoving the ball in his face which prompted teammates to separate the two. Green walked away from the skirmish smiling and engaging the crowd by raising his hands in celebratory fashion.
LeBron James put in a stellar effort scoring 51 points while grabbing eight rebounds and eight assists. Meanwhile, two-time MVP, Stephen Curry had 29 points to lead the Warriors.
Game 2 is on Sunday at 8:00 P.M. as the Cavaliers look to even the series before going back home.
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