On June 12, 2017, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals four games to one. They avenged a 3-1 collapse the previous season to win the title. On October 17, 2017, the 72nd NBA season began. It was a foregone conclusion that the same two teams would meet again for the championship. If you listened to Vegas and the betting odds, the Warriors would win the rematch in six games.
During the season, it seemed like both teams were still on course to make it to the Finals. In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets were the only threat to the Warriors. They finished with the best record in the conference and the entire NBA. Their GM came out and admitted that adding Chris Paul was to beat the Warriors. To be the champs you have to beat the champs. This is exactly what might have happened if it wasn’t for Paul injuring his hamstring in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Or maybe it was the team going 7-44 from three for 16%. Either way, the Warriors won the series in seven games and found themselves in the Finals again. The Cavs finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. They were going to go up against the number one seed in the East, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics didn’t have Kyrie Irving. They had a team, a great coach, and home court advantage. The Cavs still had LeBron James. That would be all they needed to win Game 7 on the road. The MVP nominee LeBron James scored 35 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out nine assists in that game. It is unfortunate that you can predict the NBA Finals in the middle of October. It would be even worse if the Warriors would win the Finals easily.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The Cavs came ready to play from the start. They seemed like they would dispel the naysayers thinking that this would be a cakewalk for the Warriors. Down by one with 4.7 seconds left in the game, George Hill steps to the free throw line. He hits the first one to tie the game. The next free throw misses and J.R. Smith grabs the rebound. Instead of trying to shoot the ball or pass it immediately to another teammate, he dribbles out the clock. WHAT?! He clearly didn’t have any court awareness. This allowed the Warriors to go into overtime and win 124-114. The Cavs completely wasted a chance to steal Game 1 on the road. They also wasted an amazing 51-point game by LeBron. He was so upset after the game that he hit a black-board and injured his hand.
Game 2 was the “Curry Shimmy”. Stephen Curry set an NBA Finals record by making nine three-pointers. He scored 33 points to lead the Warriors to a 122-103 victory. It seemed like the Cavs were still in shock of losing Game 1. It was hard to swallow, but LeBron scored 29 points, dished out 13 assists, and grabbed nine rebounds. He was guarded more by Kevin Durant in this game to make sure that the Warriors wouldn’t tie the series 1-1. That small adjustment, in stretches, led to a 2-0 lead. The silver lining was that the Cavs were heading back home.
Game 3 was just like Game 3 from last season’s game. The Cavs were playing great ball. They were only down 100-101 after LeBron’s three-pointer with 1:57 left in the game. Everyone was thinking, that this could be it. They could erase that Game 1 disaster and find a way to pull of this win. Andre Iguodala got a dunk making it 103-100. Still, the Cavs were only one possession away. Then Durant causally pulled up from just beyond half-court and hit a three. GAME OVER! Granted it was still forty some’ seconds left in the game, but that was the dagger. He did the exact same thing last year, except this year it was a further shot. Durant was simply amazing in this game. He scored 43 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and gave out seven assists to lead the Warriors to a 110-102 victory. The series was over. The only question would be if the Cavs would win one game like last year or get swept.
Game 4 was over after the third quarter. The Warriors came out like they had the entire Finals, and imposed their will in the third quarter. They took a nine point half-time lead and it made it 21 to start the fourth. Curry was shooting and dancing his way to 37 points while Finals MVP Durant finished with a triple-double. The 108-85 victory was just the second sweep in Finals history. The other time was in 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs did it to LeBron. That is not the list you want to be on.
The Warriors have been to four straight NBA Finals and won three of them. If they keep their team intact, it’s highly probably that they will be back again next year. There are several free agents, including LeBron, which could shape that argument. Until then, the Warriors will enjoy being mentioned as a dynasty team, because they added back-to-back championships to their accomplishments.