Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James scored 51 points in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, and it still wasn’t enough to beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena because of an all-time bad blunder by J.R. Smith.
George Hill went to the free throw line with 4.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cavs trailing 107-106.
Hill tied the score by making his first free throw, but he missed the second attempt and Smith got the rebound. Instead of attempting a potential game-winning shot from the paint, Smith dribbled the ball out to the perimeter as James screamed at him.
Smith apparently thought the Cavs were ahead, but they weren’t, and the Warriors started overtime on a 7-0 run and cruised to a 124-114 series-opening win.
James became the first player in NBA Finals history to score 50 points and tally at least eight rebounds and eight assists. Unfortunately for King James, he’s also become the only player in NBA Finals history to lose a game during which he scored 50-plus points.
James did everything imaginable for the Cavs on Thursday night. Not only did he put up 51 points, he was highly efficient on 19-for-32 shooting and a 10-for-11 mark at the free throw line. It’s the 109th 30-point game of his playoff career, tying him with Michael Jordan for the most all-time.
He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a basket to put Cleveland up 106-104 with 32.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Game 1 was the one the Cavs needed to steal to have any chance of making this series competitive. They don’t have homecourt advantage and are playing against a superior opponent, which makes their margin for error razor thin.
James played about as well as he could and almost willed the Cavs to victory in one of the best NBA Finals performance of all-time, but his effort was undone by a stupid mistake by a veteran player who should know better.