After heartbreak struck a year ago, the Golden State Warriors capture redemption as they win their second NBA Championship in three years, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five 129-120.
In Game 4, the Warriors got punched in the mouth in the first quarter and could never recover. Along with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s greatness, Cleveland stirred the “Can this team really come back from a 3-0 deficit?” pot. Stephen Curry had his worst game in these playoffs and “Cavs in seven,” topics started popping up everywhere. But after going down as much as eight points in the first half, Golden State used a 21-2 second quarter run to ultimately secure not only the lead, but forcefully take Game 5.
Kevin Durant was masterful on the night with momentum shifting threes and crafty plays to get to the rim. Using his height advantage, Durant would punish Cleveland nearly every time a smaller or slower defender was switched onto him. His defense matched his offensive greatness on the night, using his length to challenge any and everyone going to the rim. He finished with 39 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal. Durant became just the third player in NBA history to have four scoring titles, a regular season MVP, a championship, and a Finals MVP. He’s also the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000 NBA Finals with five straight 30-point games in a championship.
While LeBron James did not ultimately win the game, he did remind the world just how great he is. James did everything for Cleveland in these Finals. From scoring the ball to getting his teammates into great scoring positions, James had a record setting series. He became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals (33.6 ppg, 12 rpg, and 10 apg.) While debates on if James is the GOAT might have slowed down a little , there’s still no debating who the best player in the world is.
After having a forgetful game four, Golden State needed their two-time MVP to step up and out duel Kyrie Irving if they wanted any shot of capturing the title. Curry did not have the great game from behind the arch (shooting 2-9,) but he did have a MVP worthy game. From getting to the rim, laying the ball up amongst the bigs to whipping the ball around the court with mind boggling passes, Curry bounced back in a big way. While Irving had a solid game ( 26 points and 6 assists), It was Curry that won the point guard battle on the night, finishing the game with 34 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds.
With all the star power on display, it was the reserves for Golden State that secured the win. Yes, J.R Smith had a great game, hitting 7 of 8 threes finishing with 25 points and Tristan Thompson had 15 points, but the bench for the Warriors stepped up in a major way. Golden States reserves outscored Cleveland’s bench 35 to 7.
Golden State showed the world just how great they are (and can be moving forward) if they are clicking on all cylinders. With Durant etching his name in the championship record books and most, if all not, of their key pieces returning, we might be seeing an NBA Dynasty in the making.
But for now, congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for winning the 2017 NBA Championship.