After the Golden State Warriors failed to finish off the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals, unable to secure a second championship with a 3-1 lead, the franchise understood major changes were needed. The team was on the brink of either becoming a dynasty the Bay Area longed for or just another one-time NBA Champion.
The team aggressively pursued Kevin Durant in free agency and signing the former MVP turned out to be worth every penny. In the regular season, the Warriors showed dominance even with Durant missing 19-games. However, Durant became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 30 or more points in each game in the Finals, scoring 39 points in the series-clinching Game 5 victory. He proved his value all over the court with dominant play inside, great outside shooting and ferocious defense as the Warriors beat the Cavs 129-120.
Durant was the obvious choice for the Finals MVP, but it should not be understated that Steph Curry averaged 26.8 points, 9.4 assists and 8 rebounds a game in the series. Curry didn’t receive any votes for MVP, but it likely speaks to the Game 4 loss, in which he only scored 14 points.
If Curry had played his usual game, the Warriors would have likely gone 16-0. Nonetheless, you have to give credit to where credit is due. Cleveland opened up Game 4 with 49 points in the first quarter and 86 first-half points overall, both the most in NBA Finals history.
Golden State wanted to close things out, but they had to overcome their 3-1 demons from last year. Taking the series back to Oakland, the Oracle crowd gave them the confidence needed. The arena rocked with the most loyal fanbase in the NBA. Even though the Dubs needed just one more victory, if Golden State let this go to a Game 6 — it would have made things too interesting.
When Cleveland is down, it presents a nothing to lose mentality, which seemingly makes their fight so much stronger. They play in the moment and fight for another day. As the Warriors learned last year, it is a dangerous place to be and not somewhere they wanted to go. And, in juxtaposition, the Warriors have the weight of world on their shoulders, because they’ve been labeled a “super team”. The Warriors had to close it out in 5 and they did. And that, that was a much needed exhale for long-time Warriors fans.
With 2 titles in 3 years, it is not a stretch to say the Warriors have planted the seeds for a dynasty. And considering multiple reports, the Warriors intend to keep the major core together as long as possible. Considering the Cavs own dominance in the Eastern Conference, it would not be a surprise to see these two teams compete in a fourth straight Finals matchup. In fact, I will call it now.
LeBron James is now 3-8 in career trips to the Finals, but no blame should be assigned to him considering he averaged a triple-double in the series. Love him or hate him, James is an amazing basketball player and it is amazing to see him play. And even more amazing to see your team take him down with unselfish group play!
Nonetheless, James and Kyrie Irving were phenomenal for most of the series. The Cavs’ fight never let up. There was no quit in Cleveland, despite Golden State occasionally opening up double-digit leads. The Cavs were turnover-free in the third quarter in Game 5, and if there was anything holding them back, it was Kevin Love disappearing at times. However, he used his veteran moves to acquire key fouls which got him to the line. Cleveland gave it their all.
James led with powerful drives to the basket against Kevin Durant, but Durant was able to answer with turnaround jumpers over James to equalize the points. The battle of wills between arguably the two best players in the game. It provided plenty of entertainment in a series that was labeled as “boring” due to Games 1 and 2 blowouts. Nevertheless, this series was the most watched NBA Finals since 1998.
Congratulations Dub Nation!
Thank you for supporting Fangirl Sports Network. It has been amazing covering this Golden State team this year.
The Warriors will hold a victory parade in Oakland on Thursday at 10 a.m. PST. The parade will begin at Broadway and 11th St. and will end at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland. Fans are allowed to assemble for the parade as early as 5 a.m. See you there!