2017 NBA Finals: Things sure looked easy for Golden State Warriors
In the moments following the Golden State Warriors’ 129-120 Game 5 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch their second NBA Championship in three seasons, a new commercial from Nike made its television debut. It encapsulated the last 11 months — the time span since Kevin Durant shook the basketball world by bolting from Oklahoma City to join the record-setting Warriors.
You know, how all the people (more specifically, media types) who were down on Durant for not only leaving a very good Thunder team, but signing with the team that won a league-record 73 games but nearly lost to OKC last year, are just dead wrong now.
Durant won his ring. He’s the series MVP. It’s validation, and in a lot of ways, the commercial is right on the money.
But Monday night’s win also had a hint of emptiness because it was soaked in inevitability. Kind of makes you wonder if Nike produced the meat of that spot last October, when there was finally footage of Durant in a Golden State uniform in existence.
Durant was incredible in the series. For a five-game, 12-day span, he, not LeBron James, was the best player on the planet. He averaged 35.2 points, eight rebounds and five assists while shooting a blistering 56 percent from the floor. Everything he did looked easy. And there’s a good reason for that.
Even the most open-minded NBA observer knew the 2017 champs would emerge from a group of three teams all the way back in the fall. But in reality, this was pre-determined. Had the 73-win Warriors added a superstar like Durant and not won the title, it would have gone down as one of the biggest upsets in sports history, even if LeBron James was on the other side.
James was his masterful self in the series, but the final picture also validates James’ claims that he doesn’t believe he played on “Super Teams” in Miami or Cleveland.
There was at least a hint of uncertainty in both of LeBron’s highly-publicized moves to new teams. How would it work out? Each team’s general manager had to scramble to fill out rosters. Sure, veteran players were more than eager to sacrifice some money to be a part of the Heat or Cavs, but none of James’ teams the last seven seasons looked close to as dominant as the Warriors were in this 17-game postseason run to a title. Each of LeBron’s three championship squads lost at least five games on the way to winning rings. His two championship teams in Miami each lost seven playoff games.
Yes, there will be plenty of player movement in the next few months as the league’s second rung of teams try to concoct a way to beat the Warriors. But they probably shouldn’t bother. As long as Golden State’s core of Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala stay together, they’re winning the title.
Maybe LeBron had a point? – Remember when James belly-ached that he needed more help during the middle of the regular season? Yes, even though the Cavs’ starting five included two other All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, so many around the country thought James was being a bit of a baby in requesting assistance.
So during the course of the year, Cleveland GM David Griffin added sharpshooter Kyle Korver, veteran point guard Deron Williams, former Warriors center Andrew Bogut and one-time second-overall pick Derrick Williams in an effort to fortify the bench.
LeBron was right.
Cleveland’s bench was awful for most of the series. Golden State’s reserves outshot the Cavs’ bench group .508 to .306 and outscored them 145-92 over in the five Finals games.
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