The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions for the second time in three years.
They won game five on Monday night in Oakland, sentencing the Cleveland Cavaliers to a long, gloomy plane ride back to Ohio.
The final score of the series clincher was Warriors 129, Cavaliers 120.
Cleveland came out of the blocks with determination and even held a multiple point lead following the first quarter, but the Warriors, getting solid play from series MVP Keven Durant, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, chipped away at that lead. At one point, as the second quarter was winding down, Golden State led by as many as 16 points.
In the final seconds of that second quarter, however, Cleveland found an unlikely hero in the form of J.R. Smith, who sunk consecutive three-poitners off shots that would have gotten him benched by most coaches.
Curry was not his typical deadly accurate self from three-point range, but he was able to take advantage of defensive mismatches by the Cavaliers and solid screens from his mates to put the ball on the floor and repeatedly dribble the lane for easy layups. He finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, atoning completely for his sub-par performance in game four.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Durant. He played over 40 minutes, scored 39 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists.
From a distant, objective perspective, it was the Warriors’ ability to slow down Kyrie Irving that made the difference. He was limited to 15 points in just under 42 minutes of court time.
It was almost as though they conceded that LeBron James is unstoppable, so the strategy was to force James to keep the ball in his hands and take time off the clock. James wound up with a game-high 41 points, but Cleveland’s reserves were not able to contribute much in the way of offense, whereas Warriors’ rookie Patrick McCaw scored 20 points.