It was only one year ago we were watching the NBA Finals Game 5 at Oracle Arena with the Warriors up in the series 3-1. It seemed like Déjà vu all over again; except the Warriors had Kevin Durant this time around and boy did he make a difference.
Durant who averaged 35.2 points and 8.4 rebounds in this series was a man on a mission. Despite some early foul trouble, Durant turned it on in the second quarter and would stay hot the rest of the game. Leading Golden State to a 129-120 win, giving them a second championship in three years, while Durant captured his first NBA championship and his first Finals MVP.
“I couldn’t sleep for two days, I was anxious, I was jittery, I just wanted to lay it all out there,” said Durant. “I put in work I just had to trust in It,” he added.
Both teams came out of the gates looking to take the advantage on offense scoring early and trading baskets. The Cavs continued their hot shooting from game four and took the lead heading into the second quarter.
Game four was the most physically intense game of this series, which clearly led to the refs calling things a little bit tighter in game five. Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Love would all get two early fouls, leading to Love and Thompson struggling to find their shots. Durant was able to get ten quick points in the first quarter, which would be crucial for his confidence the rest of the night.
With Durant and Thompson on the bench, Stephen Curry kept the Warriors in the game only allowing the Cavs lead to get to eight. The Warriors bench was the key factor in tonight’s game-clinching win. Andre Iguodala scored 20 points in 38 minutes off the bench, while David West, Patrick McCaw, and Shaun Livingston all provided valuable minutes.
The Cavs played almost perfect in game four which allowed them to get the win, and the same would have had to happen in game five if they wanted the series to continue. Unfortunately, they could not get Kevin Love going and could not find much help outside of J.R. Smith (25 points) and Tristan Thompson (15 points).
Golden State was pretty quiet in the first quarter but once Kevin Durant returned to the court in the second they went on a 21-2 run. Iguodala not only contributed on offense but played great defensively holding Kyrie to only 4 points in the second quarter. Led by Durant and Curry on offense the Warriors turned an eight-point deficit into a 17-point lead.
“They’re so fast, they get out in transition. It’s tough to get back and get matched, especially with their speed,” said Cavs Coach Tyronn Lue.
LeBron James has been the best player in the world for quite some time and he proved why throughout this series. He came out in every game and performed at the highest level, averaging a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
“I left everything on the floor every game, all five games. So for me personally I have no reason to put my head down,” said James. “I have no reason to look back at what I could have done better for the team,” he added.
Kyrie Irving proved to be one of the best scorers this league has ever seen. His ability as a point guard to create his shot and get to the paint and make it look so easy is an amazing attribute. It will be interesting to see what the Cavs do in the off-season to give Irving and LeBron help for what we can only hope will be part 4 of this rivalry.
While Kevin Durant ended the night carrying off the Finals MVP trophy, Steph Curry had amazing finals in which he averaged 25 points and 9 assists and 8 rebounds. Many in the sports world brought up how much Steph underperformed in last year’s finals, something he seemed to take personal which showed in his performance this year.
The Golden State Warriors are no strangers to milestones, just last year the were able to get to 73 wins the most in an NBA season. This year they ran through the playoffs going 16-1 and making it look easy.
“We’re in the midst of this run and we’ve got a lot of guys right in their prime and they’ve got some good years ahead of them so it’s pretty exciting,” said Coach Steve Kerr.
This team has a young core and with guys who believe and are willing to sacrifice to win, which can mean we are in for a long run with these Warriors. And with the east still looking like no match for LeBron, we may be looking at Warriors vs. Cavs Part four this time next year so stay tuned.