Here are Seven Deadly Stats from the Warriors’ triumphant Finals win.
ESTABLISHING A DYNASTY
This postseason was all about elevating themselves to the status of dynasty for the Warriors. And although there were a few hiccups along the way, especially the dogfight that was the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets, they got there in the end.
The Warriors are the 4th different NBA franchise to win at least three titles in a 4-season span. They join the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
THE THIRD QUARTER LEGENDS
The Warriors’ third-quarter surges have become the stuff of legend. The last two games of the conference finals was proof enough – they overturned double-digit halftime deficits in the space of one quarter both times – but the last game of the Finals served as an encore, as they blew the game open with a typical third quarter.
The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by 12 points in the 3rd quarter.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
This postseason, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 153 points in the 3rd quarter, the largest point diff in a single playoff quarter in the Shot-Clock Era (since 1954-55). h/t @EliasSports
IN ELITE COMPANY, PART I
Durant is the player who’s made the Warriors virtually unbeatable, but Curry remains the engine of the team. He averaged 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in the Finals, scoring 37 points in the clincher to put himself in a select group of players.
Stephen Curry is now the 8th player with 3 titles and multiple MVPs, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Tim Duncan. pic.twitter.com/fXqmshRgSZ— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
IN ELITE COMPANY, PART II
Speaking of Durant, he’s in an even more select group after his performance in these Finals, winning the series’ MVP award for the second year running.
It was a close call between Durant and Curry, but the former’s Game 3 performance – 43 points and a dagger three-pointer – probably clinched it in his favour.
Kevin Durant is the 6th player to win back-to-back Finals MVPs.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
The others? LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. pic.twitter.com/3x40zhKm2c
And on the off chance there was any room for doubt after that, Durant’s Game 4 performance sealed it. Even though Curry scored 37 points, a triple-double to close out a championship series is hard to top.
Kevin Durant posted his 1st career #NBAFinals triple-double with 20 PTS, 12 REB, 10 AST to help the @Warriors become 2017-2018 NBA Champions! KD is the 5th player in NBA history to produce a 20-point triple-double in a Finals-clinching victory. #SAPStatLineOfTheNight pic.twitter.com/4UBB5nAmdB— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 9, 2018
WHO’S THE GOAT?
Speaking of hard to top, LeBron James was so ridiculously good this postseason, there’s only ever been one playoff scoring run better than this. And of course that record belongs to Michael Jordan. Will the debate ever end?
With LeBron James out of the game, he finished with 748 points this postseason. That is the 2nd-most points in a single postseason in NBA history. Michael Jordan has the most with 759 points in 1992. pic.twitter.com/6XR5LDtM6z— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
CURRY’S DEFENDING HOLDS UP
James’ primary strategy on offense was to target the obvious mismatch: Curry. But the Warriors point guard did a good job of minimizing the damage – as did his teammates’ help defense whenever this matchup presented itself.
In the NBA Finals, there were 54 plays that ended with Stephen Curry on LeBron James. Curry held LeBron to 12 points, and the Cavaliers shot 36% as a team on those plays. pic.twitter.com/6DHhJ212QL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
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The Golden State Warriors just completed the best four-year stretch in modern NBA history, and yet their greatest achievement during the run hasn’t been their dominance, but rather what their invincibility has inspired.
In the aftermath of the Warriors winning their third title in four years with a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, there has naturally been a need to contextualise Golden State’s place in history. They are, of course, a dynasty now, having joined only three other franchises – the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls – with three championships over a four-year span.
Their record of 328-83 (.798) in the regular season and playoffs during that stretch is the best four-year winning percentage in NBA history, beating out Magic Johnson’s 1985-88 Lakers (.754) and Michael Jordan’s 1995-98 Bulls (.758). The only season over the past four years that didn’t end in Golden State lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy was one in which they set a record with 73 regular-season wins.
Including the postseason, the Warriors are 328-83 (.798) over the last 4 seasons. That's the best 4-year winning percentage in NBA history, beating out the stretch the Warriors had from 2014-17. H/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/DtH10sxoBx— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2018
The Warriors are historically great and everyone recognises that. But for as many conversations that are going on today about how great this team is, there are just as many, if not more, centred on how they’ve ruined basketball.
Think about that for a second. We’ve just witnessed a team reach the very peak of the sport – not just in terms of overcoming 29 other challengers to win the title, but in how flawless they were to get here. Their collection of shooting, talent, unselfish personalities and playing styles melded into something we’ve never seen before and the result feels like someone solving a problem and all of its variables.
We’re in awe of that, sure. But we’re also upset and dismayed a team can have everything figured out and, frankly, be this good. At the end of the day, sports are a vehicle for entertainment and we want to be entertained. Greatness can be entertaining – how many people have you ever heard say Jordan ruined basketball? – but these Warriors feel inevitable and infallible in a way we’re not used to.
They have us questioning rudimentary concepts like competitive balance and fairness, while making the NBA season feel like a formality, even if the end result was in doubt along the way.
Golden State’s players and coaches seemed more relieved than anything after completing their task on Friday. There was unbridled jubilation after they won it all in 2015 and a feeling of ‘mission accomplished’ after their triumph last year. This time, however, it felt like an unburdening.
“It’s still euphoric,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But three years ago was, ‘I can’t believe this happened,’ and now it’s, ‘I can definitely believe this happened.'”
That may sound arrogant, but that’s exactly the overwhelming sentiment the Warriors inspire. They’re supposed to win and they’re supposed to do it in a way which makes you feel helpless.
Golden State have cracked, if not completely broken our psyche. We’re annoyed by how easy they make it look. Which is why after the Finals ended, the focus immediately turned to LeBron James‘ future. That’s expected considering he’s the best player in the world and the face of the NBA, but part of the reason we’re so invested in what LeBron decides to do this summer is because we’re desperate for someone to end the Warriors’ reign. And if James can’t do it with a handpicked situation, who can?
Well, the Houston Rockets nearly did in the Western Conference Finals. They were one win away from eliminating Golden State and up double digits in Game 6 and 7, only to falter.
This may be the last time we have this loathing attitude towards the Warriors for how hopeless they’ve made us all feel, although it’s not out of the question this keeps going for another few years, especially if Golden State want it to.
For now though, if you don’t want to celebrate this team for what they’ve achieved because it feels unjust or unfair, then at least recognise they can make you feel that way despite doing it all within the confines of the rules.
The Warriors haven’t’ just beaten the rest of the NBA, they’ve defied our construct of competition.
The Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the best-of-seven finals series, winning the fourth match in Ohio 108-85 on Friday to secure their third championship in four years.
Durant was chosen as the series’ Most Valuable Player, and became only the fifth player in history to register a 20-point triple-double in a title-clinching game.
Warriors guard Steph Curry contributed 37 points to the winning cause, as LeBron James and the Cavaliers lost out to the Oakland franchise for the second successive year.
Durant said: “This is about the journey – all season, getting up, going to work with these guys is amazing.
“The environment is incredible. It’s good for you to be around guys like this, it helps you become a better basketball player and a better man.
“I’m happy to be part of this group.”
Asked about the contest with Cavaliers superstar James, Durant added: “When you play against one of the best, it brings out the best in you as well.
“I’m just glad we got back-to-back championships and I’m looking forward to celebrating in the locker room right now.”
James revealed he had played the final three matches of the series with a broken hand, a “self-inflicted” injury, reportedly sustained when he punched a whiteboard after the overtime defeat in game one.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted the talent in his team made this success easier to take in than previous successes.
“It was definitely the toughest from the standpoint that it was the fourth year in a row that we’ve attempted to get back to the finals,” he told reporters at a post-match press conference.
“I remember sitting in this room three years ago and this feels more like reality. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s just the talent we have, the experience we’ve gained.
“Three years ago it was ‘I can’t believe this happened’. But now it’s ‘I can definitely believe this happened’. But it was hard.”
After building a nine-point lead by half-time, the Warriors put the game out of Cleveland’s grasp with a third-quarter rally in which they outscored their opposition 25-13.
LeBron James left the court with 4:03 left on the clock and the Cavs down 102-77, having just turned over the ball to Durant while the game slipped out of their reach.
James had 23 points on the night, with his Cleveland side looking to do the improbable and overturn a 3-0 deficit for the first time in NBA Finals history.