Warriors Look Like a Dynasty After Winning Another N.B.A. Championship
After the Golden State Warriors failed to finish off the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s N.B.A. finals, blowing a 3-1 lead in the series, they knew they needed to get better if they wanted to go from a one-time title winner to a dynasty. So the team aggressively pursued superstar Kevin Durant in free agency. The former M.V.P. was worth every penny, leading the Warriors to their second championship in three years.
Durant, who became just the sixth player in N.B.A. history to score 30 or more points in each game of a finals, had 39 in the series-clinching Game 5 victory. He proved his value all over the court with dominant play inside, great outside shooting and tenacious defense as the Warriors beat the Cavaliers 129-120.
In a tear-filled interview on the court after the game, Durant said he had not slept in two days and was anxious and jittery before the game, but all of that was over now.
“We prevailed,” Durant said. “We’re champions and we did it on our own floor.”
Durant called James, who had 41 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists in the loss, the only person he has looked at since 2012 in terms of competition. He also joked that they were now even in finals after James’s Miami Heat had beaten Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in that 2012 season.
Despite the series lasting just five games, the Cavaliers put quite a scare in the Warriors by nearly winning Game 3, dominating Golden State in Game 4, and then playing them hard until the final minutes of Game 5. LeBron James averaged a triple-double for the series, Kyrie Irving was at his absolute best, but they were simply outgunned as Durant and Stephen Curry carried the Warriors’ offense through the series.
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, who has won titles in two of his three seasons as a coach, took the opportunity to praise himself in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
“We have very little talent, actually, it was most coaching,” he deadpanned before saying he had the best job in the world.
In praising his team, Joe Lacob, the Warriors’ owner, singled out Stephen Curry and Draymond Green before adding “and Kevin, thanks for coming” to which Durant smiled and replied “yes, sir!”
That exchange left little doubt who would be named the Finals M.V.P. A short time later, Durant, who averaged 35.2 points a game, was given the Bill Russell trophy by Russell himself.
When handed the trophy, Durant held it up to the crowd before repeatedly praising his teammates and the fans in Oakland for his success.
Curry, who gave up some of the spotlight and offensive burden when he courted Durant in the off-season, said he was happy to bring “Ol’ Larry” back home, in reference to the Larry O’Brien Trophy — awarded to the N.B.A. champions.
In familiar fashion, the loquacious Draymond Green was the most willing player to talk, addressing his Game 5 suspension last year, which many cited as a reason for the team’s eventual collapse.
“We had a letdown last year, I had a letdown last year,” Green said. “But, like I told everyone before, if Kevin Durant was the consolation prize to lose, thanks for that loss.”
In Game 5, Durant was unstoppable, shooting 14 of 20 from the field, but Curry was terrific as well with 34 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals M.V.P. had a turn-back-the-clock game on offense with 20 points, with several key baskets in the second half that helped build the Warriors’ lead.
Despite having nearly the entire roster eligible for free agency, the Warriors are expected to bring the entire core back next year, and have the seeds for a dynasty, with two titles in three seasons to go with a record-setting three-year regular season run in which the team has gone 207-39. But considering the Cavaliers’ dominance in the Eastern Conference playoffs, there is little to reason these teams will not be back next season for a fourth finals matchup in a row.
Here’s how the Warriors won Game 5:
Game 5 was underway at 9:11 p.m. Eastern when Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers won the opening tip over Zaza Pachulia of the Warriors.
After a chippy Game 4, Klay Thompson was whistled for a foul just 12 seconds into Game 5 as the referees try to set an early precedent.
After a little more than two minutes of play, the Warriors were leading 6-4 thanks to a technical free-throw caused by a 3-second violation, a Kevin Durant layup and a Draymond Green 3-pointer.
Kevin Love was forced to the bench early in the quarter thanks to two quick fouls as the referees have continued to call the game tightly. But the Cavaliers absolutely exploded after he came out of the game with a combination of aggressive defense and quality offense. Kyrie Irving stole the ball from Stephen Curry and LeBron James intercepted an outlet pass and suddenly a 9-4 lead for the Warriors had turned into a 13-9 advantage for the Cavaliers. Coach Steve Kerr had seen enough of Cleveland’s momentum-stealing play and called a timeout with just under nine minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Cavaliers are 6 for 7 from the field so far.
The Cavaliers have continued to play an incredibly physical style on defense, and it has thus far greatly frustrated the Warriors, who can’t seem to find open shots and can’t get to the rim to make up for it. Meanwhile the tightly-called game has resulted in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both joining Kevin Love…