Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Klay Thompson; these names signify one thing. They signify the clash of the titans—the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Golden State Warriors—in the NBA Finals. For the third straight year, NBA fans were treated to a battle between the NBA’s two finest teams.
The Warriors cruised to a 73-9 record last season, the best regular season record in league history. Stephen Curry was named the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, and the Warriors were poised to become repeat champions, and go into the record books as arguably the greatest team ever.
In the 2016 Western Conference Finals, the Warriors hit a roadblock as they faced off against Durant, Russel Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder jumped out to a 3-1 series lead, but the Warriors rallied to take the series away from the Thunder, and clinch a spot in the NBA Finals, thus sealing another year Durant would have to wait for a championship opportunity. The Warriors would go on to squander a 3-1 series lead to the Cavaliers, who, led by James, would take home their first championship in franchise history. Durant became a free agent, and the courting process began. Durant announced he would be joining the team he was unable to beat, the Golden State Warriors, on July 4. A former MVP was added to a 73-9 team, creating an absolute “super team” in the Western Conference, a team out for vengeance against the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers looked to defend their crown after they took home their first NBA championship after shocking the Warriors. The team finished 51-31, good for second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics. However, the Cavs struggled at times this season. Rumors circulated that James needed more superstar support around him, despite the fact that the Cavs are the defending champions with three superstars in their own right with Irving, James and Love. Though they had their struggles, the Cavs went 12-1 in the playoffs en route to their third straight finals appearance. The Warriors, on the other hand, picked up where they left off after last season. After a 67-15 regular season record, the Warriors cruised to the top seed and through the playoffs, finishing 12-0 en route to their third straight finals matchup against the Cavs. The matchup the world was waiting for was finally upon us.
The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, dismantling the Cavs in Games 1 and 2, and staging an epic Game 3 comeback. Golden State won Game 1 113-91, and Durant took advantage of his first Finals appearance since 2012, finishing with 38 points. In Game 2, he finished with 33 points as the Warriors his 18 3-pointers as part of a 132-113 obliteration of the Cavaliers. In Game 3, the Cavaliers looked to finally right the ship at home, as they had a 113-107 lead late into the game. The Warriors would then go on an 11-0 run, with Durant nailing a dagger 3-pointer in James’ face to seal a win and jump out to a commanding 3-0 lead.
It looked like the series was over for the Cavs, but they would not back down. In Game 4, the Cavaliers hit a Finals record 24 3-pointers, Irving scored 40 points and James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists along the way to a 137-116 win over Golden State.
It looked as if the Warriors may have their work cut out for them, as they learned the hard way that a 3-1 series lead is never safe. There would be no cause for worry however, as the Warriors won a thrilling Game 5 129-120 behind Durant’s 39 points and Curry’s 34 points. The Cavaliers had proven to be a huge challenge for the Warriors, as they jumped out to a large lead, and came back from a 17-point deficit. The Cavs were unable to make their key shots or make stops late in the game, leading to a thrilling Warriors win. Kevin Durant was named Finals MVP with five straight 30-point games, and finally won his first title in his 10th year as a pro.
The Warriors are on top of the NBA once again. The newly crowned champs will look to defend their title, while King James and his Cavaliers look to exact revenge in what should be an incredible 2017-2018 campaign.
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