Pick a nightmare, any nightmare and LeBron James lived it Thursday night.
For starters, James and the defending champion Cavaliers took it on the chin — and the nose, the head and in the gut — losing 113-91 in their own slop-filled mess that turned the highly anticipated Game 1 of the NBA Finals into a soap opera with a predictable plot.
The Warriors would speed away behind the likes of Kevin Durant. The Cavaliers would get closer. The Cavs would make mistakes, turn the ball over and fade.
Finally, after a lopsided 33-20 third quarter that saw Cleveland shoot 32.0 percent to the Warriors’ 57.1 percent, the plot had no more real twists. The Cavs were done.
“It wasn’t just the third quarter, it was the whole game. It started with myself having some turnovers, especially in the first half. I pride myself on not turning the ball over, and I did it too much,” said James, who committed eight of his team’s 20 turnovers that led to 21 Warriors points.
But wait, there was more that James lamented. There were 56 Warriors points in the paint. There was a 14-5 Golden State edge in second-chance points before halftime. There were other elements: the Warriors’ speed, shots, ball movement.
“They played a hell of a game,” said James, who scored 28 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and passed for eight assists — but was a minus-22.
What could be worse?
Oh, the Warriors had Kevin Durant, unlike last year, when Cleveland rallied from 3-1 down, the first team ever to do so and win the Finals.
“You take one of the best teams that we had ever assembled last year, that we saw in the regular season and in the postseason, and then in the offseason you add a high-powered offensive talent like that and a great basketball IQ like that, that’s what stands out,” James said when asked what the difference was between this Warriors club and the team that won 73 games in the regular season a year ago.
“I mean, it’s no if, ands, or buts. It is what it is. We got to figure out how to combat that, which is going to be a tough challenge for us. But that’s what stands out.”
And that’s a lot. Especially if you are living in any sort of nightmare.
By Fred Kerber for NY Post