Balls: James wins battle, Warriors win war 

OAKLAND -- LeBron James couldn't have been much better in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Stephen Curry was very good and didn't have to be much more than that.

Now do you know why the Warriors will win this series and this NBA championship?

James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were desperate to steal the first game on Thursday night and possibly set the tone for the series. So much so that James took it upon himself to score 44 points on 48 total shots — a career-high for King James in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Curry picked his spots and finished with 26 points on 24 shots.

In other words, James has to be otherworldly for his team to have a legitimate chance, while Curry can be merely average for his team to be successful.

"We all have to be better, including myself," James said after the 108-100 overtime loss. "I don't think I was great. I've got to do better things out on the floor to help us be more precise offensively. I've got to communicate a little bit more defensively to help our team get over the hump."

Don't be so hard on yourself, Bron-Bron. You were great given what was around you. Against the Warriors, though, great won't be good enough.

SILVER SAYS: The NBA Finals will be played in a dump this season. Or so said commissioner Adam Silver, who wasted no time to politick on behalf of the Warriors for a new arena, presumably in San Francisco.

"The team needs a new building," Silver swung the first wrecking ball. "That's apparent when we bring in big events like the Finals. We need to try — just look at the size of this room — we need to accommodate 1,800 members of the media and broadcast crews and everything else."

What Silver didn't say was how the team and the league planned to take the Oracle Arena experience across the Bay exactly.

TICKETMONGER: Ticket prices in the secondary market are the greatest in NBA Finals history.

Two baseline seats for Game 1 were available at $58,250 each via Ticketmaster, which was silly until you considered that were more millionaires per capita in the Silicon Valley than anywhere in the country.

Or maybe that was the price for the gold t-shirts on the back of the chairs with the tickets thrown in as perks.

As of late Thursday night, the highest price realized for a seat was $36,843 on Ticketmaster and $35,612 on StubHub.

HOT, HOT, HOT: It will cost an average of $1,006 just to get inside Oracle Arena for a Game 7 if/when necessary — and that's still 14 days away. The average price is twice that much —$2,053.97 — TiqIQ reports.

VIP'S AND WANNABES: Jason Collins, Rihanna, Guy Fieri (Food Network), Jesse Jackson, Reggie Jackson, Magic Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Dikembe Mutombo, Shaquille O'Neal, Nate Thurmond and Kristi Yamaguchi were in attendance.

THE DAILY J.R: In his latest rant, Cavaliers goofball J.R Smith griped that his trade from the New York Knickerbockers last winter amounted to little more than a salary dump.

"Absolutely, to hear I was a throw-in to the trade just to get you off the books and for us to go over there and thrive, I think that's absolutely how I feel," said Smith, who absolutely zinged team president Phil Jackson in an Instagram earlier this postseason.

In return for Smith and Iman Shumpert, the Cavaliers received two second-round draft picks, a pair of trade exceptions and two players they waived then resigned. They also took on Smith's $6-million contract option for next season.

What Smith doesn't mention was that it's standard practice to unload loose cannons before the trade deadline.

FASHION STATEMENT: In the pre-game warmup, Smith showed up in a hoodie and a new Fade haircut but the same, old jump shot. He bricked 10 of 13 field goal tries and didn't score a single point in second half and overtime period.

WHERE IS THE LOVE?: The Cavaliers are without Kevin Love in the series, and except for an occasional 3-ball, they won't miss him much. His replacement Tristan Thompson has been a beast in the paint area, something Love has never been accused of in his career.

"In a lot of ways, (Thompson) probably makes them better defensively," the Warriors' Draymond Green said. "He's probably more of a rebounder, especially on the offensive glass. He's been killing everybody on the offensive glass."

REST OF THE STORY: Coach John Calipari says he doesn't regret his decision to turn down the Cavaliers' 10-year offer to stay put at Kentucky. Because, you know, the Wildcats have more room under the salary cap, and who wants to be King James' assistant, anyway?

JUST SAYIN': Final(s)-ly!

THE LIST: Odds on the NBA Finals outcomes, per Odds Shark:

Cavaliers in five: 12/1

Cavaliers in six: 5/1

Cavaliers in seven: 6/1

Warriors in four: 8/1

Warriors in five: 7/2

Warriors in six: 4/1

Warriors in seven: 13/5

YOUR TURN: "From one Pole to another: You are so wrong! Cleveland's a complete team which you will find out." — Adam Gockowski, Cleveland

(Actually, it's my British half that refers to them LeBron and the 11 Elves.)

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE... Matthew Dellavedova?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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