The greatest player of this generation and probably all-time played his best basketball in the 2017 Finals. He averaged 33.6 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the series shooting 56% from the floor and 39% from three. The best player never played better than he did over the past week but he still never had a real chance of winning the Finals.
A great post has been floating around the internet today. It reads “it took 4 Olympic gold medalists, 3 players averaging 20+ points per game, 1 defensive player of the year, 2 MVP winners who went back-to-back, and 2 of the best 3-point shooters the NBA has ever seen to beat a 32 year old LeBron James.” Whoever will use the “3-5 in the Finals” stat to discredit LeBron will never be taken seriously by me. LeBron getting beat down by this Warriors team enhances his forever argued legacy. I honestly believe with the way that he was playing, the Warriors would have lost again this year without Durant. They needed Durant to surpass LeBron James. That is fucking crazy.
Even though the Cavs got within 5 points several times in the second half, it didn’t feel like they were ever going to catch up. The Cavs were down by 17 late in the second quarter before JR hit two deep threes to lessen the deficit to 11. Those 6 points I think were crucial to the Cavs even having a chance in the second half.
JR hit a lot of shots, Thompson finally grabbed rebounds and scored points, Kyrie continued to finish at the rim, and LeBron was unstoppable in the paint, but in the end it didn’t matter. Every time LeBron powered his way to the bucket in the 4th quarter, Durant or Curry hit a three on the other end. Every time Tristain Thompson dunked, Iguodala responded with a dunk. They couldn’t keep up.
The bench for the Cavs only scored 7 points compared to the 35 from the Warriors bench.
Shumpert was dreadful yet again in game 5. The only thing he contributed offensively to the game was a wide open three point shot that bounced straight off the side of the back board. In the four minutes he played he had 0 points and 3 personal fouls. What happened to him?
LeBron had 41 points to go along with the 26 from Kyrie (who has having back issues) and 25 from JR (7 for 8 from three). Durant had 39 points, Curry had 34, and Iguodala had 20 off from the bench.
In the 3rd quarter David West and Tristian Thompson got into a scuffle (they awkwardly touched lips). The Warriors even scuffle better than the Cavs. I would take West over Thompson is a street fight any day.
At the very end of the game when it was clear the Warriors were going to win, Curry began to celebrate as Durant became emotional hiding his tears. Curry fist pumped to excite the crowd and put up two horrendous threes, one of which hit the back board. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a tinge of hatred towards Curry when he pulled up that late ridiculous three that hit the back board. I know he was trying to get the crowd fired up and put a definitive nail in the coffin, but it felt excessive. For a moment I think I understood what so many people have felt towards Curry for the past two years.
Durant and his mom shared a moment on the court after the game. I didn’t watch the post-game celebration as I had to get up early and sit in a soul sucking cube where I am writing this half-hearted post. During the first commercial break after the game, a Nike commercial aired showing countless talking heads criticizing Durant from his rookie year in 2007 to present day. Then when Durant won the title all of the pundits where left speechless and an image of a celebrating Durant with a “debate this” title screen over top concluded the ad.
Chills. I definitely felt chills watching that ad but even still, it wasn’t 100% truthful. Durant has been one of the most under criticized super starts in all of professional sports. Westbrook took almost all of the blame for his shortcomings in OKC, something the ad failed to mention. Regardless, the ad was effective, Durant won his ring, now what.
Durant was awarded the Finals MVP. This was an obvious selection as he lead the team in scoring and was the definitive difference maker in the series. Without him, they would have likely lost to LeBron again.
It’s easy to forget that Durant missed the final 6 weeks of the regular season with what many thought was a season ending knee injury. Durant came back from spraining his knee just a few months ago, and he also came back from his foot injury that many believed would derail his career shortly after his MVP season a few years ago. Those are serious injuries that if not rehabbed and taken seriously could have sent Durant into Penny Hardaway territory.
I was a bit sad after the game. The next NBA season is just a few months away but another chapter of what is now my favorite sport has ended. I don’t remember feeling this way after the College Football Championship or the Super Bowl. The NBA has its flaws, but it is the most genuine and satisfying professional sport today.
We all just watched the best player in the NBA go up against the best team in the NBA, we are lucky to be witnesses of such a great Finals series regardless of the final scores.