Golden State had the better bench
The most obvious factor in Game 1 was the success of Golden State’s bench. Shaun Livingston was the leader, but he, Andre Iguodala, and Leandro Barbosa combined for 43 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists, shooting 18-of-24 from the field. With Curry and Thompson struggling, the offensive boost that group provided was the difference and then some for the Warriors.
Cleveland’s bench combined for a grand total of 10 points and had more turnovers (3) than assists (1). This is a dramatic swing from earlier rounds where Cleveland’s bench had been an enormous advantage for them.
Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Dellavedova-Shumpert-Jefferson-James-Frye lineup had been Cleveland’s second most-played unit, outscoring opponents by 46.6 points per 100 possessions in those 70 minutes. That group played just one minute together in Game 1. Having Frye move out of the rotation was a strange move by Lue. Frye, who’s been shooting 57.8 percent on three-pointers in the playoffs, played just seven minutes.
Kevin Love played well enough offensively to justify his minutes and Lue may be understandably reticent to play Love and Frye together, given their defensive acumen. Cleveland’s offensive struggles were not just about a lack of shooting or spacing, but Lue may need to take some rotational risks. Beyond their starting five, which actually outscored the Warriors in Game 1, it may be more important to get the best players available on the floor rather than getting lost in the details of who will defend who. For what it’s worth, the Cavaliers have been plus-26 points per 100 possessions in the 51 postseason minutes Love and Frye have played together.
Next: 2. Golden State got easy buckets