Kevin Durant capped his spectacular first season with the Warriors by bringing home that coveted National Basketball Association championship he joined Golden State last July so determined to get, scoring 39 points in a fast-and-furious, Finals-clinching 129-120 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
Durant – who swapped the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Warriors in the off-season – walked away with the Finals MVP award after scoring 39 points in game five.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s LeBron James led the Cavs with 41 points, but came up short for the fourth time in seven years.
The Warriors might well hammer the Cavs Monday as they did in Games 1 and 2 and close out the title as most people expected. Last game, in Game 4, I thought that’s who we are.
“I stick with my guys”, Lue said.
Meanwhile, Durant (2 of 9) and Stephen Curry (2 of 9) struggled for Golden State at the other end. All in all, it was a historic night for Cleveland, but they are not out of the woods yet.
But after getting moved off the ball at times, Irving played much better in the two games at home.
Through four games, the Warriors have clearly proved superior with this lineup on the floor, boasting a 72.4 net rating – but Kerr will have more leeway to put them on the floor more often, as the Cavs simply don’t possess the same size they did a year ago. It started when Durant took exception to a blow to the head from Kevin Love that led to a flagrant foul and a face-to-face confrontation with James. When a player like him gets going, you let him cook. As mentioned above, the Warriors have been a stalwart on defense, but oddly enough their defensive rating (DRtg) has dropped (significantly) over each of the four games of this series. More than most scorers, his effectiveness is based less on the defense he’s facing and more on whether his rare ability to make contested shots on slithery drives from unusual angles is working on that particular night.
There are the indefensible, well-defended looks, where Thompson forces him into a tough look, gets a hand up and he makes it anyway.
Kerr joked after the game, “Actually we had very little talent, it was mostly coaching”. “It’s squeaky bum time and we’ve got the experience now to cope”.
The Warriors went on one of those signature demoralizing runs against the Cavaliers in the second quarter of Game 5. Thompson was held to 13 points and 4-for-11 shooting.
The Cavaliers set all types of records in their Game 4 victory over the Warriors and, while it’s unlikely that they repeat any of those accomplishments, there were some troubling signs from the way Golden State played. “They kept us up all night”, Durant said. “As ESPN’s Tim Legler noted over the weekend, “(The Cavs) really manhandled Golden State. He led his team to a dominating game-four win in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers turned the tables in front of the Golden State fans in Game 7 past year, winning the decider 93-89.
Much of the work on that will fall to Cavs guard Kyrie Irving.
“K.D.’s obviously an exceptional offensive player, exceptional player, and he’s going to make big shots”. If the Warriors can do one on Monday night, it’ll go a long way toward helping them do the other. “You can tweak some things, but are we going to play hard?”