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LeBron James drove past Stephen Curry and got a three-point play with 50 seconds to play to put his team up 104-102.

LeBron James did everything he could to disprove the notion that his Cavaliers were mismatched against the defending champion Warriors, scoring 51 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

With the game almost over, James jawed with both Curry and Klay Thompson, then Tristan Thompson and Draymond Green tangled moments later and made contact. In fact, he only played 15 games in the Wine and Gold before he was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade deadline deal. J.R. Smith then grabbed the rebound but lost his mind-effectively dribbling out the clock in regulation rather than attempt a shot to win.

The Warriors took a seven-point lead in the third quarter but turnovers and miscues and the continued dominance of James kept the game close in the fourth.

Asked if emotions will continue to hit the boiling point, Thompson replied, "My job is to bring the toughness, energy, so that's what I do". LeBron made a lay-up four seconds later to give the Cavaliers the lead, and nine more seconds later, Curry scored a lay-up with a foul to give Golden State a 107-106 win.

"But the way it went down to the wire, we were scrambling on that last missed free throw trying to get the rebound and saw JR [Smith] ran it back to half court". And by the end of a hot-tempered overtime, Curry and James, two of the NBA's signature players, were jawing at each other like genuine rivals. "He thought it was over", Lue said post game. I knew I was outside the charge line, so that's what the communication was to us.

"Our relationship has always been a working relationship", James said. The teams continued to trade haymakers down to a final minute with a pair of freaky plays that turned the tide for the Warriors.

Kevin Love was still in the protocol when the Cavaliers came to Finals media day, leaving Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue to only say "I hope" Love will be available for the opener.

Curry and James were talking during a break to review the incident. And then tonight in the finals on the biggest stage, when our team played well, played our ass off, man, it ain't right.

"You take it all the way throughout the night thinking about it and ways you could have been better and plays that could have happened that could have gone your way and didn't go your way or things you could have done".

Instead, the game went to overtime and ultimately in the Warriors' favour.

"We got lucky", Kerr said.