Pretty Good Sports

NBA Finals Game 5 Recap: They Are Who We Thought They Were

Brendt Pates

First off, I apologize for not covering Game 4 of the Finals, as I was incapacitated the entire weekend, but it’s worth mentioning that the Cavaliers had their maximum scoring outburst that not even this Warriors team could combat and showed what they are capable of when their backs are against the wall, which it seems is when they play their best basketball. But after Monday night, we can officially crown the Golden State Warriors 2016-17 NBA Champions after winning 129-120, which it seems everyone but Nick Wright already did before the season started. In the end, they are exactly the team the league expected and feared: the best offensive team ever, and the league's stingiest defense over the regular season and postseason combined. They were drama-free for the entire season and gelled quickly, silencing haters that reminded everyone there is in fact only one basketball on the court. The NBA has had super-teams before, but none quite like this. The Warriors boast four All-NBA-level players age 29 or younger. Three of them rank among the 10 greatest shooters ever; they are all lethal away from the ball. The fourth, Green, is more initiator than finisher, and ranks as a generational defensive player (ESPN).

LeBron did everything a single human can possibly do, scoring 41 to go with 13 rebounds and 8 assists on 63.3 percent shooting, making him the only player to average a triple-double in a Finals. However, by the end of the 3rd, Cleveland’s bench had 4 points while Kevin Love had only 2 (he would finish with 6) and the Cavs somehow weren't dead. Credit LeBron and his 47 minutes with just keeping it competitive. Kyrie had 26 on 41 percent shooting, while JR ‘Hennything is possible’ Smith finished with 25 while shooting 7-8 behind the arc, making some huge shots to keep the Cav’s in the game. Tristan Thompson had his best game of the Finals, recording a 15-8-3 stat line while also getting into a scuffle (making out with) David West in the second quarter. Shumpert and Deron Williams both stunk, which allowed the Warriors to gain a comfortable lead after the Cav’s led the majority of the first. Cleveland seemed to be able to stay relatively close after halftime, yet could never slow the Warriors scoring runs.

Durant was yet again the star of the show, scoring 39 on 71% (!) shooting and grabbing 7 rebounds with 5 assists, deservedly claiming the Finals MVP trophy for the series, becoming only 1 of 4 players to average over 30 in a Finals series. Immediately after, Nike released their “Debate This” commercial which showed a panel of sports heads trashing Kevin Durant’s every move while his season highlights played behind them, and all of them falling silent after announcing the Warriors have won the championship. Many people were quick to hate on his championship, saying he didn’t “earn it the right way” or he “sold out”, but every year the Finals are won by dominant teams, not players, and in a couple of years the thing people will remember is the Finals MVP award in Durant’s Wikipedia awards section. Arguably two top-20 players of all time versus possibly the best player of all time drawing the most viewers in the last 10 years, but they are ruining the game of basketball! Curry played well enough, scoring 34 points going 12-15 from the free throw line while dishing 10 assists. Klay struggled, shooting 30 percent while recording only 11 points. Draymond also only scored 10 points on 3-10 shooting, but grabbed 12 rebounds and tied David West for the highest plus/minus of any Warrior. Iguodala added a huge 20-point game off the bench, and showed flashes of his Sixer days with a pair of soaring dunks through the lane. Zaza looking like a mixture of a guy who just fought Mike Tyson and a severe allergic bee sting reaction while being comically bad at basketball is always a sure guarantee and good for a few laughs. Honestly, the craziest thing to come out of this is that Javale McGee and all 3 of his rat tails are now an NBA champion. Just wild. Nothing makes sense to me anymore after hearing this fact.

After the game, the real MVP stormed the court and embraced her son, who then said ''You can talk about whatever you want to talk about, but nobody comes in and cares about the game or loves the game as much as I do or works as hard as do I at the basketball game. You can talk about whatever happens on the outside, but inside those lines, I come to bring it every day”. Draymond added right after that “If KD was the consolation prize to lose [last year], thanks for that loss, and we're champs this year.” The Warriors also stayed true to their corny persona between Steph smoking a cigar with two hands on the court after the game to Durant immediately spitting out his beer in the locker room, staying true to the early-season photoshoot mantra they established prior.

Anyways, this doesn’t tarnish Lebron’s legacy if you look at the teams he’s faced in the Finals. This Warriors team and the Spurs dynasty are both much better than any team Jordan had to go against, although cosmetically 3-5 in Finals doesn’t look the best when arguing for best of all time. It’ll be interesting to see where both teams go from here, whether the Warriors core will try and stay together (they will), boding for many sleepless nights from Golden State’s financial department trying to figure out how to make it possible. The annual Kevin Love trade rumors will surely return after a poor Finals performance, and it’ll be interesting if LeBron (the real Cav’s GM) will try to move Love’s $27 million a year to try and get a Paul George or Jimmy Butler to combat GS. All in all, a good not great NBA season followed by a boring, predictable playoffs and Finals, but in time I think people will start to realize how truly dominant these Warriors were and the talent we all got to witness this past season.