NBA Finals: G1 - Durant Validates the Decision

The Golden State Warriors are 13-0 in the NBA playoffs after knocking off Cleveland in Game 1 of the Finals, 113-91, and for Kevin Durant this could not feel any sweeter.

After spurning the Thunder faithful last summer and joining an already dominant Warriors squad, Durant has caught more than his fair share of flak.

As he crossed the line from beloved small-market star to California celebrity, haters from everywhere but the Bay Area chastised Durant in every way possible. They said he was soft, that he had no competitive drive and that he was tarnishing his legacy to win championships the “easy way.”

Look who’s laughing now.

Durant finished Game 1 with a sparkling 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as he efficiently took over the game one dunk at a time. He capitalized on every defensive mishap and every mismatch, while also locking down on defense.

Steph Curry scored 28 and dished 10 dimes while Draymond Green quietly was one point away from a triple double going 9-11-10 on the night.

LeBron James did his best to keep the Cavaliers in the game with 28 points, 15 boards and eight assists, but he often looked out of control on offense and had 7 turnovers in the first half alone.

After a relatively boring road to the Finals, NBA fans were promised to finally see a competitive series. Instead, they saw Golden State’s swarming defense and methodical offense expose flaws the Cavaliers did not even know they had.

Cleveland turned the ball over 20 times, while the Warriors surrendered the ball on only four occasions. This led to Golden State taking 106 shots while the Cavs only got off 86. Cleveland’s defense was also often lackadaisical as Cavs players simply looked a step behind the Warriors all night. For Cleveland to have a chance in this series, they will need to play within themselves on offense and try to amp up their defensive intensity in short order.

All too often the Cavs allowed Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson to roam free from the perimeter and shoot wide-open threes, while Durant and Green were routinely allowed open driving lanes in transition that ended in dazzling, demoralizing dunks.

Thompson shot a woeful 3-16 in the game on his way to only 6 points, yet the Warriors still won by 22. If the lesser splash brother can find his form, Golden State could wind up sweeping the entire NBA playoffs.

For the first time in NBA history, two teams are squaring off in their third straight Finals. Yet, this series has a different feel to it because of the added dimensions Durant has brought to the Warriors. Whether he is being used as a playmaker, spot-up shooter, rim-protector or defensive deterrent, Durant has brought an uncanny versatility to a team that already boasted some of the most versatile players in the league.

Regardless of the series outcome, Durant has already proven to haters that he is anything but soft. Anyone who questions his passion will be asked to refer directly to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when he showed the world that he is truly a man on a mission for an NBA title.