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NBA Finals scores 2015: The best way to stop Cleveland is make LeBron James score

The Warriors did a great job of turning James into a scorer and that's not what the Cavaliers need from their best player.

SB Nation's 2015 NBA Finals Guide

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers 108-100 in overtime, and by doing so took early control of the series. They did it despite letting LeBron James explode for 44 points. Or maybe they won was because they dared James to beat them by scoring, instead of getting his teammates involved.

James came into the finals averaging more than eight assists a game but tallied six on Thursday despite playing almost 46 minutes. After sending a big man to help when James posted up or went into isolations in the mid-post in the first quarter, the Warriors went most of the game using single coverage or helping only at the last possible second. As a result, James went on a scoring binge and logged his season-high in points.

LeBron shot chart

Interestingly, James' previous season scoring high came against the Warriors on Feb. 26. James had a very similar stat line that day, down to the low assist and high turnovers. In that game James finished with 42 points, five assists and six turnovers, but it only took him 25 shots to get there instead of the 38 he took on Thursday. More importantly, four other Cavaliers scored in double-digits in that regular season win but only two eclipsed 10 points this time.

The Warriors' strategy for defending James seems to be to stay home on shooters and let him score as much as he can. If the three-pointers are falling, the plan might backfire, as it did in February. But if they aren't -- and they haven't in the playoffs, where James came in averaging 17 percent before going 2-for-8 -- and it's a great way to take the role players out of the equation.

LeBron ISO

When Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith combine for just 17 points, the Cavaliers need James to not only put up high scoring numbers, but do so with efficiency and he couldn't do that in Game 1. It's very likely that will be Golden State's strategy from here on out and there's little James can do to counter it except have historically great games. On Friday he scored or created 66 of the Cavaliers' 100 points according to Synergy Sports and even that wasn't enough.

The Warriors may have just found a way to solve Cleveland's offense and that could make this a short series.

3 other things we learned

1. If Kyrie Irving can't play, the Cavaliers are doomed

Irving was one of the two other Cavaliers to score in double digits, finishing with 22 points. He was everywhere on both ends, willing in acrobatic layups and playing defense at a level he's rarely showed in his career. It looked like the knee injury wasn't bothering him anymore and he would be able to help LeBron shoulder the offensive burden and make the series competitive. Then this happened:

Irving had to leave the game and will be evaluated on Friday, but it doesn't look good. If he can't play for the rest of the series or is nowhere near healthy, Cleveland simply won't have enough firepower to hang with the Warriors.

2. Andre Iguodala is coming up huge for Golden State

Iguodala had to be relegated to the bench to make way for Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup, but he continues to be a key player for the Warriors. His versatility really helps the second unit and his defense on James on Game 1 showed why at one point he was considered among the best in the league on that end.

Golden State won the battle of the benches 34-9 in no small part thanks to Iguodala's 15 points. He likely won't go 2-for-3 from outside again but if he can continue to create some transition buckets and defends James as well as he did on Friday, he could be the X-factor in the series.

3. J.R. Smith needs to step up for the Cavaliers

Cleveland has no bench. The injury to Kevin Love forced Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup and the mummified corpses of Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller and Shawn Marion can't be expected to suddenly contribute. That leaves an eight-man rotation comprised of the starters plus James Jones, Smith and Matthew Dellavedova.

If Irving misses time, Dellavedova will be asked to start. That leaves Smith as the only sub who can dribble and one of two players who can create for themselves on the whole roster. Cleveland can't survive if Smith continues to have bad shooting nights like the 3-for-13 Game 1 clunker.

J.R. shot chart

It's unfair to ask Smith to save the Cavaliers but injuries to the stars have put him in this position. A gunner like him will surely relish the opportunity and if he can fix his aim, maybe Cleveland can stay in the series.

Play of the night

Iguodala crossed LeBron James and finished with authority as time was expiring.

9 fun things

You can buy a Riley Curry T-shirt nowYou can also watch her kiss her daddy before the game. And here's her victory dance. That kid is a star.

Stephen Curry is still hitting shots from the tunnel before games.

Leah Still wished LeBron good luck in the finals, and it made our cold hearts melt.

Kyrie Irving was playing great before the injury.

The Warriors are such big fans of ball movement and three-pointers that they pass up alley-oop dunks for outside shots.

J.R. Smith hit a very J.R. Smith three-pointer at the end of the first half.

Andre Iguodala hit a three-pointer while wearing only one shoe.

LeBron should be mic'd up for every game.

The Cavaliers were so close to winning. After this amazing Irving blockIman Shumpert almost made a game-winner in regulation.

Final score

Warriors 108, Cavaliers 100 (Golden State of Mind recapFear the Sword recap)