It wasn’t easy, but then it isn’t supposed to be easy.
In the end, the Golden State Warriors pulled away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter of game five and won their second title in three years. As he has been throughout the series, Kevin Durant was magnificent in winning the Finals MVP. He scored a team high 39 points, while Stephen Curry was also fantastic, scoring 34. It was the Warriors’ depth that also came to the fore. Their bench scored 35 tonight, led by Andre Iguodala’s 20, while the Cavs bench managed only 7.
Like most of the series, the offenses were ahead of the defenses. The Cavs shot 53 percent from the field, made 11 threes on 46 percent, scored 120, and still lost. LeBron James was brilliant in defeat, scoring 41 with 13 rebounds and eight assists. He was relentless early and late, but eventually the weapons the Warriors had was too much even for the best player in basketball.
Cleveland got off to another good start in this one, forcing some turnovers early and finding their offense through James. There was early foul trouble for both teams, with Kevin Love for the Cavs picking up two early ones (and Love never got going tonight,) while Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green all had two in the first quarter for the Warriors. The Cavs led by four after the first, but it was a second quarter eruption led by Durant and Curry that sent the Warriors to a lead that was as much as 17 before a flurry of shots by J.R. Smith closed it to 11 at halftime.
The Cavs made a push in the third quarter, closing to within three at one point, but every time the got going, Durant or Iguodala or Thompson or Curry would made a play to reestablish control for the Warriors. Finally the Cavs ran out of gas in the fourth, as Kyrie Irving, who was also fantastic all series, went cold and they simply didn’t have anyone to pick up the slack. The Warriors extended their lead back out to 15 and cruised home in the last couple of minutes to clinch another title.
The Warriors have clearly established themselves as the best team in basketball, with two titles in three years, 140 regular season wins over the past two seasons, and a spectacular 16-1 run through the playoffs. Now the question is how long they can keep this type of dominance going. I suspect it will be harder than many seem to be predicting, but they will no doubt return with a very similar roster and try to run through the league once again.
So now we’re on to the off-season, with the draft in 10 days, and teams will begin the business of reshaping themselves for the coming seasons. Four and half months without the NBA, but there is always news.
Congratulations to Warriors fans.