The Golden State Warriors overcame adversity — and a rampant Lebron James — to see off the Cleveland Warriors in an exciting Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland Thursday night. Led by MVP Steph Curry, the Warriors took control of the game in overtime, remarkably keeping Cleveland from scoring until the last few seconds, while they put 10 points on the board to take the game 108-100.
But perhaps the most remarkable part of that overtime run came when Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, attempting a drive in Warriors’ territory, lost his footing and picked up a knee injury that forced him to leave the game. As a frustrated Irving — who will miss the rest of the finals after the Cavaliers later confirmed he had fractured his left knee cap — limped his way to the dressing rooms, his team’s fading hopes disappearing with him, he became the fourth injured starting guard that the Warriors have encountered in their run to the finals. That is four injured opposing guards in four rounds of the same post season.
It started in the first round when the Warriors came up against the New Orleans Pelicans and guard Tyreke Evans. The Warriors took the first game of what would be a 4-0 sweep, but Evans picked up a left knee injury even before the first half was done and would struggle for fitness throughout the series before eventually undergoing surgery to fix the problem. The Pelicans also had to play the Warriors in game two without Jrue Holiday, another guard, who had a leg injury.
The Warriors then played the Memphis Grizzlies in the next round, a series that Memphis would be forced to start without point guard Mike Conley, who had suffered severe facial injuries during the Grizzlies first round series against Portland Trailblazers. Conley did return for Game 2 of the series though — after surgery and in a face mask — and helped his team pick up a couple of wins before the Warriors ultimately prevailed 4-2.
The Houston Rockets came next, in the Western Conference final, and they also had to face the Warriors without their starting point guard. Indeed, the Rockets had to negotiate the entire postseason without Patrick Beverley, who had injured his left wrist back in March, and was done for the season after surgery. Without his defensive qualities, the Rockets couldn’t stop the Warriors, who took the series in five games to reach the NBA finals.
Now, it’s the turn of the Cavaliers, and without their point guard — 23 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in Game 1 — their chances of overturning the Warriors just took a huge dent. Even before facing the Warriors, Cleveland had already lost star forward Kevin Love — the third part of their “big three” along with James and Irving — also to injury earlier in the postseason. That only means a tough Finals against a very good — and so far, injury free — Warriors could get even tougher.
The Warriors, who host Game 2 at the Oracle Arena on Saturday night, are favorites to make history and win a first NBA title in 40 years. If that happens, they would have left a string of broken players in their wake.
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]