Stars of the Hardwood- NBA Finals Game 1

Max: In my Finals preview I said that I thought the Warriors’ bench could potentially have a great series. I didn’t expect them to play like that.

Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa combined to outscore the Cleveland bench 45-10. Livingston was particularly unstoppable, scoring a playoff career-high 20 points in 27 minutes.

Iguodala continued his unbelievably impressive defense. LeBron James bullied his way to the paint any time he wanted in the first quarter, but the pace of the game seemed to tire him out a little and everything flipped once Iguodala checked into the game. Last year’s Finals MVP ripped the ball from James and Kyrie Irving on successive possessions at one point; hands continue to be amazing.

Livingston’s midrange game was similarly jaw-dropping. He lost his offense against in the Western Conference Finals, but the Cavaliers don’t have the same length and Livingston was able to get to his spots all night long.

If I have to pick one star, I’m giving it to Livingston, but I really do believe the entire bench unit deserves credit. Outside of back-t0-back dagger threes late in the fourth, the Splash Brothers struggled to find their offense all game. They needed a big effort from their bench to make sure Game 1 didn’t get away and Livingston and Co. provided just that.

Kelly: I love Shaun Livingston. His story – the fact that he’s even playing basketball right now – is absolutely incredible. He’s so tough and strong and he broke his own personal record for points scored in a postseason game. He dropped 20 points, the highest on the team and equaled the combined output of Steph and Klay.

However, however, however, while all of the bench players certainly carried this team one man put on a dominant show on both the offensive and defensive ends and he deserves to be recognized. That man is the reigning Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala.

Iggy had 12 points, including two beautiful threes, seven rebounds – three offensive, one block, one steal and six assists in 36 minutes. The man literally did it all. And he spent a chunk of his night guarding LeBron James, although not as much as I had anticipated.

People were questioning Iguodala coming into this game – would there be any lingering effects from chasing Kevin Durant around for the last few weeks? Would he give the team the same life he gave them last year? Would he be able to continue to get better, despite being on the opposite side of 30?

I think this is his answer to all of those questions:

(Oh yeah and he overcame Matthew Dellavedova. Iggy deserves this star)

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