© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
In their most up-and-down championship year, the Warriors capped their 2018 run by sweeping a LeBron James-led team. There was little doubt which team was superior from start to finish, despite an all-timer of a Game 1, leaving little reason for the Warriors to milk this series into Game 5.
The Warriors beat the Cavaliers, 108-85. Golden State has now won three of the past four NBA championships, the first team to do so since the Los Angeles Lakers won three straight from 2000-2002. If the Warriors had not surrendered a 3-1 lead in 2015, the superlatives would be even more ubiquitous. As far as dynasty talks go, there is no longer a debate.
This type of dominant run was expected ever since Kevin Durant joined the Warriors after they won an NBA-record 73 wins prior to the 2016 season. It was not guaranteed, however, especially this year, featuring a regular season riddled with injuries, culminating in a No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, followed by facing a 3-2 hole in the Conference Finals. The Warriors trailed the Houston Rockets by 11 points, on the road, in Game 7, and found a way to slow down one of the league’s most prolific offenses to take the series.
Then came the NBA Finals, the fourth act between these sides. The Warriors trailed in the final minute of Game 1 in the NBA Finals, only to capitalize on one Cavaliers blunder after another to get the win. Everything else was downhill. The Warriors won by 19 points in Game 2, eight points in Game 3, and 23 points Friday night to put the exclamation point on a series that reappears every late May.
The Warriors won games in multiple ways throughout this series, the mark of a championship team. In Game 3, they went down 16-4 before Kevin Durant summoned his all-worldly talent to keep the Warriors close. Durant’s dominance, blended with timely buckets from others and defensive stops, allowed Golden State to take a 3-0 lead.
Friday night was quite the opposite. The Warriors jumped out to a 13-3 lead. After Curry scored 11 points, his second-lowest total of the season in a full game, in Game 3, he scored 12 points in the first six minutes Friday night. The Warriors ran their offense with purpose and defended with intensity. Curry did Curry things, Kevin Durant was methodically surgical, and the Warriors supporting cast showed up. Andre Iguodala, who had not made a three in his previous five appearances, hit three three-pointers in the first half alone, deeming the Warriors as an unstoppable juggernaut, as if they weren’t already.
While the Cavs kept the game close, this game never felt like it would be determined in the final minutes. James (23 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds) played his worst game of the series. The Warriors entered the second half leading by nine points, primed to solidify the sweep with a prolific third quarter, just as they have all year long.
Like clockwork. Golden State outscored Cleveland 25-13 in the third quarter. The Warriors outscored opponents by an incredible 524 points this season in the third quarter.
Curry scored a game-high 37 points. Durant added a triple double. The rest of the squad followed suit.
As Quicken Loans Arena booed, the Warriors cruised throughout to another NBA Finals on Cleveland’s home floor.