Golden State. Golden still.
Stephen Curry scored 37 points, Kevin Durant added 20 and a triple-double and the Warriors stamped themselves a dynasty after winning their second straight NBA title and third in four years Friday night, 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships.
Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors were not going to be denied and won the fourth straight finals matchup against Cleveland with ease.
It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn’t go well either, and now there’s uncertainty where the superstar will play next.
James finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move.
It’s entirely possible that James left the floor knowing he was wearing a Cavaliers uniform for the last time. It’s hard to envision a scenario where James knows where he’s going — if anywhere.
Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers are oft-mentioned as possible James destinations — but since they’re in the Western Conference, that would mean potentially dealing with the Warriors earlier in the playoffs. He could go to Philadelphia and join a up-and-coming team. He could return to Miami, a place he still loves.
Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled and controversial Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they’re the game’s gold standard.
And they may stay that way.
Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a 3-pointer.
Then the league’s best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out “War-eee-orrss” chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their 3-point barrages.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant, which it did for the second year in a row.
Durant will be remembered most for what he did in Game 3. Durant scored 43 points in that game, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final minute to all but clinch the win for the Warriors.
Durant averaged 28.8 points in the series, along with 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
“It’s just about the journey, all season,” Durant said. “Getting up every day, going to work with these guys, it’s amazing. The environment is incredible. It’s good for you to be around guys like this. It helps you become a better basketball player and a better man.”
Durant becomes the 11th player to win Finals MVP twice, joining six-time winner Michael Jordan, three-timers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and James, and two-timers Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Willis Reed and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood an overtime scare in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span.