IT was inevitable. With an seven day break between Game 5 of Cavs/Celtics and Game 1 of the NBA Finals, we all had time, myself included, to over analyse Cleveland’s chances of winning this title. Kevin Durant and the rest of Dub Nation had other ideas. Full credit to both teams on slightly engaging the basketball public for 24 between the end of Game 4 and the start of Game 5, but let’s be honest. This title was won back on July 4th and yesterday just confirmed everyone’s beliefs.
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AS the saying goes records are made to be broken, and both teams did their best to break ALL OF THEM. We haven’t seen a scoring display like that, from both teams, in years. Maybe ever. The winning team averaged 125.8 points and the losing team averaged 110.8. That losing team average would have been good for the 4th best average in the league last year. The rate at which both teams scored buckets was just ridiculous.
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FOR a period of time Cavs fans had a reason to believe a Game 6 was a realistic possibility. They started the game in dominant scoring fashion, much like they did in Game 4. After they led 41-33 in the 2nd quarter things were looking up, then Golden State went full ‘Golden State’ on the Cavs reeling off a 21-2 run in the blink of an eye. Fuelled by their transition game the Warriors quickly blew the game open. From there Cleveland were playing catch up and the writing was on the wall. As per usual Kevin Durant was the focal point for the Warriors, dropping 39 points and earning Finals MVP honours to go along with that championship ring he so desperately craved. Steph Curry (34 points) provided great support, although it’s clear now that Durant is the best player on the team. From a Cavaliers perspective, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson had arguably their best games of the series and LeBron James (41/13/8) became the first player to average a triple double through the NBA Finals, finishing the series with averages of 33.6 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving weren’t exactly their world beating selves, yet the biggest concern was the Cavaliers bench. They scored just seven points with Deron Williams and Kyle Korver virtually non factors for the large part of the series. Channing Frye played just once this series and Richard Jefferson tried, but father time won this battle.
SOMEWHAT surprisingly I found that throughout LeBron’s career he has never had more total points, rebound and assists in a five game stretch than he had in this years Finals. Not even in the 2015 Finals when he single handedly kept them in the series. Forget the argument that his 3-5 Finals record negatively impacts his resume, he was all sorts of dominant, doing literally everything in his power and then some more to try make the series entertaining and competitive. It was clear from the outset that LeBron and Kyrie were going to get theirs, J.R. was going to be streaky shooting three’s and Kevin Love/Tristan Thompson were going to rebound with Love canning the odd trey.. The only way the series was going to be won for the Cavs was if all those things went in there favour with regularity, and unfortunately they only put it all together once in Game 5. But enough about them, this is all about the Warriors.
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SAY what you will about Durant joining the Warriors and how bad it is for the league that teams couldn’t compete against them, this is still a special team. I, as much as anyone, am pissed that Golden State blew out Cleveland the way that they did, but it takes a unique type of organisation to have four superstars mesh the way the Dubs studs have to sacrifice their numbers in order for the greater good. Their team first philosophy was on full effect and they controlled the tempo of the entire series, getting three’s and transition buckets with crisp movement. It still frustrates me that they didn’t slow down the game and turn it into a ‘grind it out’ type style. They have two of the best isolation scorers on Earth so it makes sense to slow down and let them go to work. What’s done is done though.
NOW we face roughly a four month lay off from any basketball action and are forced to see if anyone will construct a roster capable of knocking off this juggernaut that is Golden State. Otherwise I’ll see you in 12 months time celebrating another Warriors championship. It’s inevitable.
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