For the second time in three years, the Golden State Warriors are NBA champions.
Courtesy of a 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals, the Warriors earned the title in front of the home fans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California Monday night. It is the third title for the franchise since they relocated to the Bay Area in 1962 and fifth overall.
On the way to his first NBA Championship, Warriors forward Kevin Durant scored 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting, including a five-of-eight showing from three-point range, to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and one steal.
Additionally, the Warriors got double-digit scoring efforts from shooting guard Stephen Curry (34 points), shooting guard Klay Thompson (11), power forward Draymond Green (10) and reserve forward Andre Iguodala (20).
Durant averaged 35.2 points over the five-game series against the Cavaliers.
Four of Cleveland’s five starters reached in double figures, led by small forward LeBron James. James converted 19 of his 30 attempts from the field en route to a game-high 41 points. James added 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one blocked shot over 46 minutes of play.
Point guard Kyrie Irving (26 points), shooting guard J.R. Smith (25) and center Tristan Thompson (15) also finished in double figures.
The Cavaliers came out like a team with its back against the wall, and their hustle on both ends of the floor, as well as unselfish passing and ability to attack the rim led to a 37-33 advantage over the Warriors after the first quarter of Game 5.
The Warriors started the game on a 9-4 run, including back-to-back three-pointers from power forward Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but the Cavaliers had an answer in the form of a 9-0 run in just 95 seconds that forced a Golden State timeout with 8:44 to play in the period.
Smith got the run started with a driving layup on a pass from center Tristan Thompson, and then, James continued the scoring with a driving layup of his own, which Smith set up with a pass in the lane.
Fouled on his drive to the hoop, James made it a three-point play with a free throw, which tied the score at 9-9, but it would not remain that way for long.
Irving picked the pocket of his Warriors counterpart, Curry, and raced toward the hoop for a layup. Then, James intercepted a pass from Durant and took it in for the basket.
Out of the timeout, the Warriors got a layup from Durant, but the Cavaliers answered that with a layup from Thompson and a pull-up three-pointer from James from the left wing, which gave Cleveland a 20-11 advantage.
Although the Warriors made it a two-point game, 22-20, with a 9-2 scoring run over the next two minutes, the Cavaliers outpaced the home team, 15-13, for the remainder of the quarter.
With the Cavaliers down, 31-30, with inside a minute left, Irving sunk a pair of free throws, and then, hit an off-balance two-pointer from 21 feet away. Then, in transition after a steal from reserve guard Deron Williams, Smith caught a pass from Irving and buried a three-pointer from the left wing with 4.7 seconds left.
The Warriors put together a monster run in the second quarter, and by virtue of a 15-point edge in scoring, took a 71-60 lead over the Cavaliers at halftime.
The Cavaliers started the second quarter with a pair of baskets from James, including a dunk over the outstretched arm of Durant, who appeared to smack James in the face on his way toward the rim.
During a timeout from Golden State, James took umbrage with an official about the lack of a call on Durant, but the complaints went for naught, and the Warriors used that break in the action to settle themselves.
Down by eight points, the Warriors responded with a 30-8 scoring run over the next seven-plus minutes of play.
Golden State started the run with six straight points, including an 18-foot jumper and second-chance bucket from forward David West. West missed a short jumper as it rolled off the rim, but after the Warriors hustled after the offensive rebound, West got the short-range jumper to fall.
Following a steal off of Irving, reserve forward Andre Iguodala threw down an uncontested dunk and forced the Cavaliers to use a timeout with their lead down to two points, 41-39, with 7:58 to play in the first half.
Out of the break in the action, Durant hit a pair of three-pointers, which put the Warriors in front, 45-43, and then, Curry hit his first triple of the game at the 6:13 mark of the second quarter.
Smith broke the Cavaliers out of their slump with a deep two-pointer from the right wing, but Green answered with a three-pointer from the left corner of the floor that Durant followed with a triple of his own from the right wing.
Down by as many as 16 points, the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors, 8-2, over the final minute of play thanks to a pair of three-pointers from Smith, who buried the first from the right wing, and then, with the final seconds ticking off the clock, pulled up from well beyond the arc on the left side of the floor and sunk his third triple of the half.
Needing a run to get back into the game, the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors by six points out of the halftime break, which cut the deficit down to five, 98-93, after the third quarter.
Irving emerged as the Cavaliers’ offensive leader early in the third quarter, as he used his mid-range game to score a game-high 10 points in the period on four-of-six shooting mixed in with a pair of free throws.
James and Smith added six points each, while Thompson converted two looks from the field and three of his four attempts from the free-throw line on his way to seven points.
As a team, the Cavaliers knocked down 12 of their 20 looks from the field, while they limited the Warriors to nine of 19 in the third quarter.
For the third straight quarter, Smith buried a three-pointer in the final 20 seconds of play, as he connected on an off-balance, contested triple from the left wing with just 18 seconds remaining in the period.