KD Dethrones LeBron, Warriors Win 2017 NBA Title
Golden State won its second NBA championship in three years, clinching Game 5 at home by a score of 129 - 120. The Warriors only needed five games to finish off rival LeBron James and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Putting aside the Cavs game Game 4 blowout of Golden State, the Warriors suffered no other losses in the playoffs. In fact, before Game 4 of the Finals, the Warriors had not lost a game since April 10th. That near thee-month undefeated reign brought the Warriors players closer, and gave them enough momentum to make an historic run, finishing the postseason with a 16-1 record and the crown.
Amid all of the pressure and heightened scrutiny surrounding 'the decision' to join the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, Durant performed at an all time great level all season, then elevated his play when it mattered most in the Finals.
Durant and his family were happier and more comfortable in Oakland than in the oppressive South in Oklahoma City, where he played alongside a selfish point guard (Russell Westbrook) who was most concerned with filling a stat sheet than winning a title. With Durant winning and leading his new team to a championship, he quieted the naysayers while validating his decision.
Durant appeared super human most nights. His powers cannot be fully appreciated without first reviewing his Finals excellence over the span of five games:
Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in the Finals. While statistics are not everything (clearly as LeBron averaged a triple double for the series), they often indicate the level of brilliance and focus that an athlete is operating.
Side note: If Draymond Green had never been unjustly suspended from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the Warriors would likely be celebrating their third consecutive championship.
As it relates to KD joining the Warriors to form a "Super Team," LeBron was asked during the post game press conference about his Miami super steam and his current super team in Cleveland. Specifically, LeBron was asked whether he believes that his current super team, or his former Miami super team is good for the NBA. Rather than continue to pay deference to an opponent that just beat him soundly, LeBron took yet another jab at the Warriors, claiming, "I don't believe I've played for a super team. I don't believe in that. I don't believe we're a super team here." In addition to being flat out wrong and dismissive of fact, LeBron's arrogant response disrespects his current and former teammates.
What does LeBron think he created in Miami by convincing megastars to join him? It. Was. A. Super. Team. It was the first time in league history that three of the best players at their respective positions, gathered to play on one team. The Miami team that won the second championship had four future Hall of Famers, including: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen. Journalists should have challenged LeBron to think of a single power forward better than Bosh at the time, or a better shooting guard than DWade at the time, or a more prolific three-point shooter at the time. There was none.
LeBron is as cerebral as he is savvy on the court. He knows exactly what he's doing by constantly commenting on the "juggernaut" Warriors. He's trying to discredit their championship. His goal is to repeat enough times and leave the impression with people that, Golden State is unworthy of praise because they've accumulated too much talent. As if the accumulation of talent is wrong or new or something he didn't do himself, TWICE.
Despite the dominance of Kevin Durant, this Warriors Game 5 victory was a complete team effort. Zaza Pechulia provided a spark by grabbing three offensive rebounds early to give Warrior sharpshooters second chance opportunities. David West provided necessary muscle and toughness to combat the physical play of Tristan Thompson and Cavaliers post players. Klay Thompson was in his usual lockdown defender mode. Klay made a couple threes early in the fourth quarter to help seal the deal.
Klay's biggest impact on this series was unquestionably on the defensive end. Even Andre Iguodala came off the bench to play 38 minutes and contribute 20 points. Stephen Curry did what he does best - he danced with the ball, spun Cavalier defenders in circles, then drained long distance shots. And, as ESPN/ABC announcer Mark Jackson affectionately stated regarding KD, "Mama...there goes that man!" Kevin Durant put on a show for the ages.
LeBron and J.R. Smith were prepared to take the game over in the fourth. But trailing by 14 points, Cleveland could not afford to trade baskets. Nearing four minutes remaining in regulation, Cleveland started pushing the ball up the court with urgency. LeBron initiated the Cavaliers half court offense, which consisted of LeBron spinning to the basket and finishing with uncontested layups because Warriors players wanted to avoid sending LeBron to the free throw line. Unfortunately for Cleveland, LeBron's hard work was upended, as Durant scored on the other end with relative ease.
Before the awarding of the Larry O'Brien Trophy, Steph and Durant shared a moment on the court. Steph asked Durant in jubilation, "Is this why you came?!" Acknowledging his appreciation of the sentiment, Durant smiled, embraced his point guard and yelled back, "Yeaaa!"