Monday, June 12, 2017

Golden State Warriors: 2017 NBA Champions

OAKLAND, Calif. -- If the Golden State Warriors couldn't achieve perfection, they'll just have to settle for redemption and justification. After missing their shot at a 16-0 playoff record, they returned to Oracle Arena and finally secured the clinching victory they couldn't pull off after winning three games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year's NBA Finals.

This fall, Kevin Durant will have the answer to all the criticism he endured since last summer, when he announced his decision to join the Warriors as a free agent. He'll get a championship ring after he scored 39 points -- 11 of them in the fourth quarter, in the Warriors' 129-120 victory over the Cavaliers.

The Warriors are NBA champions for the second time in three seasons. We have you covered with the latest news and analysis from Oakland. Finals »

Stephen Curry had the answer to his disappointing 2016 Finals with 34 points himself.

As if to answer all of the legends who don't like watching them shoot all those 3-pointers and hate the idea of superstars teaming up, Durant and Curry began the game by going to the hoop, old school.

Durant had two driving layups in the first quarter and Curry had a couple himself. In the fourth quarter, with the Cavaliers still lingering after all of the swings the Warriors took at them, Curry and Durant resumed going to the hoop to get a 12-point lead that they protected until the end this time.

And Draymond Green, who missed the pivotal Game 5 last year after being suspended for an accumulation of flagrant fouls, had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Warriors returned to their most Warrior-like ways in the second quarter, outscoring Cleveland 38-23, with 21 of the points coming from Curry and Durant.

Green was back to making a variety of contributions, from helping out on defense to making smart passes (he had six assists in his first 23 minutes). He also kept his cool even as tempers flared in the second quarter. When David West and Tristan Thompson squared off, with J.R. Smith entering the mix, Green peeled off Smith -- and nothing came of that potentially volatile pairing. LeBron James and other Cavaliers kept talking to Green throughout the quarter and he responded by smiling each time. Green even saved Klay Thompson from a potentially calamitous fall by alertly grabbing him after Thompson had been upended in midair.

It took a while, but the Warriors finally got the usual home benefit for the bench players, in addition to the unique boost from the Oracle Arena crowd when things are going the Warriors' way. Andre Iguodala and David West posted a combined 12 points in the second quarter, giving the Warriors some traction between 3-pointers by Durant.

Coach Steve Kerr finally got to play an extended stretch with the "Hamptons Five" lineup of Curry, Durant, Green, Iguodala and Klay Thompson. Foul trouble for Green and fear of allowing Tristan Thompson to control all the rebounds had limited the group to only 17 minutes together in the first four games. The group that gathered together in New York last summer to formulate the superteam played the last three minutes of the first half together, and a 36-11 run took the Warriors lead as high as 17 points and the noise in the packed building reached eardrum-rattling levels.

But a couple of long 3-pointers by Smith in the final minute pulled the Cavaliers within 11 points at halftime. The Cavaliers would not go away.

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