The Warriors Needed Kevin Durant As Much As He Needed Them

Solenn Plantier
Juin 13, 2017

The Golden State Warriors won their second National Basketball Association championship in the past three seasons Monday night, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, in Oakland to clinch the series four games to one. Last summer, Durant, who chose to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, elected to join forces with another superstar in Stephen Curry as well as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to make Golden State a super team, and the group was close to unstoppable in the regular season and postseason.

The Warriors did not win without a hard-fought effort from the LeBron James-led Cavaliers.

Some would argue Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs would have given the Warriors a run for their money in the Western Conference Finals-especially considering San Antonio's 23-point lead in Game 1 before Leonard's injury-but that's a mere hypothetical.

Golden State shot 14 free throws in the first quarter to Cleveland's seven.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been saying they're a better team when their backs are against the wall. "They started to go with the 1-3 pick and roll with Steph Curry and Durant, which might be one of the most unstoppable pick and rolls in our league".

Burke asked how it was to play against James at this stage again, and Durant referenced the 2012 Finals when he was with the Thunder and LeBron was with the Heat. "We didn't seem that nervous in Game 4", Kerr said on Monday.

"I think our guys just did a good job of hanging in there", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

It is Durant's first National Basketball Association championship win in his second-ever appearance in the Finals.

Thompson had 10 alone in Game 4, including four on the offensive end that gave Cleveland extra opportunities to score and prevented the Warriors from getting out in the break. In the decisive Game 3, James was +7 in 46 minutes of play, and the team lost by 12 points in the two minutes he wasn't on the floor.

But the Warriors are brimming with confidence, knowing they didn't have Kevin Durant to help them past year. Durant buried another three on the next possession, the Warriors whipping passes around the floor before it came his way for the shot that barely flew past Kevin Love's outstretched hand. Pachulia then delivered two swipes to Shumpert's groin area, leading to technical fouls on both players. Then, as Cleveland tried to climb back in the second half, Durant continually delivered jab after jab to stagger the Cavaliers back.

Unlike Game 4, their scoring came mostly from two-point range.

The Golden State Warriors are even bigger favorites next year.

"Turnovers. Turnovers. Bad shot selection", Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said of that run. A 15-6 run led by six points from Irving got them within five, and after the Warriors pushed it back to 10, the Cavs scored six straight points, with Thompson's dunk cutting their deficit to 90-86.

The Warriors lead the Cavaliers 3-1 and will try to win their second title in three years Monday.

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