Oakland - Kevin
Durant became a champion and lifted Golden State to near-perfection as
the Warriors celebrated their fifth NBA title on Monday, defeating
Cleveland 129-120 to win their second NBA Finals in three seasons.
Sparked by 39 points from Durant, who left Oklahoma City last July in
quest of his first crown, the Warriors took the best-of-seven series
4-1, reclaiming the throne they lost to the Cavaliers a year ago.
Golden State completed a 16-1 playoff run, the best post-season win
percentage in NBA history, and added to titles won in 2015 and 1975 plus
those from 1947 and 1956 when the team was based in Philadelphia.
"There are a lot of superteams that haven't worked," Durant said. "But we come together and we're the champions now."
"We were able to get them last year and they went out and got one of
the best players this league has ever seen," Cavaliers star LeBron James
said. "Obviously it paid dividends."
Durant, who was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, became the
first player with five consecutive 30-point performances in the NBA
Finals since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000.
"I couldn't sleep for two days," Durant admitted. "I was anxious. I was jittery. I just wanted to put it all out there.
"We battled. But we did it. We're champions. And we're celebrating on our home court."
James scored 41 points to lead Cleveland. He also had 13 rebounds and
eight assists, giving him a triple-double average for the finals, an
But James, in his seventh consecutive playoff series and eighth overall, fell to 3-5 in the championship round.
"Emotions are all over the place right now," James said. "I left
everything on the floor every game. So for me personally I have no
reason to put my head down. It's just not my time."
added 34 points and 10 assists while Andre Iguodala came off the bench
to score 20 points. Kyrie Irving added 26 points and J.R. Smith 25 in a
"We've learned from everything we've been through to bring (the
trophy) back home," Curry said. "I'm just proud to be part of something
special and I just want to do it again."
After dropping last year's title when Cleveland made the greatest
comeback in NBA Finals history from a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors vowed
not to stumble again.
"We were heartbroken last year, but this year was our turn and we're
obviously quite happy," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "These guys are
so gifted and committed to each other and so unselfish. It's a
combination of talent and an unselfish nature."
Kerr found himself watching a combined seven All-Stars on both clubs and marveling at the showcase of talent on display.
"It was a hell of a series. Five games didn't do it justice, just for
how competitive it was," Kerr said. "There were times where I was just
stunned looking at the talent on the floor. Incredible high-level
basketball out there."
Excitement was high for the contest. Two courtside seats reportedly
went for $133 000 on the resale market while other pairs of seats went
for $82 000 and $90 000.
James hit a layup to open the fourth quarter and pull Cleveland
within 98-95, as close as the Cavs had been in the second half after
trailing by 17 in the first half.
Golden State responded with a 10-3 run, Durant scoring five as the Warriors stretched their margin back to 108-98.
Kyle Korver's 3-pointer pulled the Cavaliers within 108-102 but dunks
by Durant and Andre Iguodala boosted Golden State's lead to 112-102 and
the Warriors kept Cleveland at bay, a Durant driving layup stretching
Golden State's edge to 118-106 with five minutes remaining.
From there, the Warriors defense stiffened and the Cavaliers
congratulated the Warriors as the finals seconds ticked off the clock
and the crowd went wild.
At the end, the gutted Cavaliers gathered in the locker room and emotions took over.
"We had a moment," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "I broke down so I
couldn't really finish my speech. A lot of guys cried because they
wanted it bad. And that's all you can ask."
"They gave everything they had, and we fought, we competed and we never gave in, but they beat us," he added.
James made a fast-break slam dunk over Durant for a 41-33 Cleveland lead.
But Golden State answered with a game-turning 27-4 run, slam dunks by
Iguodala and Draymond Green and three Durant 3-pointers spicing the
spurt that produced a 60-45 Warriors lead.
"Couple turnovers, couple bad shots and that led to them getting out
on the break and getting out in transition," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue
The Warriors took a 71-60 half-time lead but the Cavaliers trimmed
the deficit, Smith sinking a 3-pointer to pull Cleveland within 98-93
entering the fourth quarter.