The Golden State Warriors needed a big lift from their bench to down the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-89 in the NBA Finals opener in Oakland on Thursday (2 June).
With Warriors sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson going cold, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to spearhead a decisive 15-0 run at end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter.
“That’s why we’re here, everybody having an impact on our team in the game,” Curry told reporters afterwards.
In a rematch of last year’s championship series, won by the Warriors in six games, LeBron James and the Cavaliers had taken the lead for the first time since the opening minute with a surge midway through the third quarter.
Livingston, who scored a playoff career-high 20 points, Iguodala (12) and Barbosa (11) picked up the slack for the defending champions, however.
“It’s just staying confident in my shot, understanding my game, you know where the shots are going to come from and trusting it,” Livingston said of his big night.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wasn’t surprised his bench played the way they did when Curry was far from his best.
“Steph just had one of those nights, just wasn’t going in and he had some turnovers, so it happens, you know even the best players in the world have bad nights but it didn’t hurt us because of our bench and our overall play, as I said, with our defensive effort and taking care of the ball,” Kerr said.