After the Warriors’ NBA Championship clinching game five win over the Warriors, here are my initial thoughts. More on the podcast tomorrow.
1) Warriors prove greatness yet again
I know it is hard in the moment, but let’s all take a step back and realize what we just witnessed: one of the best teams of all-time. They made a Cleveland team, who let me remind you is a great, not a good team, look lost and disorganized at times. It took two epic performances, that statically have almost never been done in the Finals, from LeBron and Irving just to steal a game.
Oh and by the way, the Warriors didn’t play close to their best basketball tonight. Durant and Thompson sat a large portion of the first quarter out with foul trouble, Green and Thompson both struggled to get going, and Golden State committed 13 turnovers. It really took until the end of the second for them to get their offense going at a level even close to where it has been in this very series. I had no routing interest at all, but I do like to witness greatness and that is what we all are seeing right now.
2) Cavs just outmatched
You have to comeback to beat the Warriors down 3-1 when they already had a great starting lineup. Now, they add a former MVP to that roster and you want them to have a realistic shot?
1) Kevin Durant
The second best player in the world went to the Bay Area for this game. Everyone who wanted to discount Durant’s impact on this series now that it was 3-1 again looks foolish. It isn’t just the fact that the 28-year-old averaged 35-8-5 on the biggest stage, but also how he did it. Durant often hit clutch shots whenever the Warriors found themselves in a little bit of trouble. Just look at the last quarter of this game. In the beginning of the fourth, James hits a shot to drop the lead to three before Durant responds. With just under six minutes left, Golden State’s lead sits at just eight before, you guessed it, Durant drills a shot. This happened time and time again throughout the five games. Whenever the Cavs had a hint of hope, Durant would go and crush it which is what a true winner does. His decision to go to Golden State in the first place is a different conversation, but he seized the moment when it really counted.
2) Steph Curry
I would still like to see more of these shots come in meaningful spots instead of when the going is good. However, at the end of the day, Curry pretty much had one bad game and four solid performances where he provided the backup Durant needed. The shooter deserves credit, let’s just not go too far.
3) JR Smith
I know some of you might be thinking, “really?” Yes, really. If it weren’t for Smith’s threes at the end of the first half and beginning of then second, this isn’t even a game in the fourth quarter. In games like this, you need a role player to step up and that is exactly what he did. Unfortunately for the Cavs, Smith was pretty much the only bench player to really step up.
1) Kevin Love
The third man in the big three for Cleveland disappeared from the moment he received his second foul and never reappeared. I mean six points and just two entering the fourth quarter? No where near good enough for a team that desperately needed someone to step up in relief for LeBron and Irving.
2) Klay Thompson
The only Warrior on the ‘down’ list would be the man who never really got clicking on all cylinders. Did Golden State really need him? Not offensively at least. I mean scoring less than 15 in three of the games is not the Thompson you or I are use to seeing. However, as bad as he had the yips offensively, he still put in a solid defensive effort.
I don’t usually say this, but I really didn’t feel like there was another player who deserved to be on this list.
Tomorrow: Podcast with my full breakdown of this game
-Article by Nick Friend