The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t enter Friday with much hope, trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-0 in the NBA Finals. The Warriors demolished anything left in yet another of their signature third-quarter runs, extending their lead to 21 points before winning 108-85 in Cleveland.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors in clinching the title — the team’s sixth overall and third in four years — with 37 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. Kevin Durant had a triple-double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and was named the MVP of the Finals.
Curry said after the win that the team used its experience in Game 4 against the Cavaliers last year — also down 3-0 to the Warriors, they won by 19 to force one more game — to prepare, knowing they’d face a focused opponent.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, but also had six turnovers. Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Rodney Hood added a combined 33 points, but shot just 11-35 from the field. Rebounding and drawing fouls kept the Cavaliers in the game in the first half, but those advantages evaporated after halftime.
It’s the second Finals sweep of James’ career, the first coming with the Cavaliers in 2007 against the San Antonio Spurs (also the most recent year any team was swept in the Finals).
That was his last finals with the Cavaliers before he left for the Miami Heat, and there’s rampant speculation he could leave Cleveland again this offseason. While Cleveland has made the Finals each of the past four years, he’s often had to carry the team; his 34-point scoring average in the Finals easily topped Shaquille O’Neal’s record 28-point average in 1995, ESPN reported. (He got swept too, though.)
The Warriors had dominated the third quarter of games all season and Friday was no different. After outscoring opponents in that period by 199 during the regular season and 141 to that point in the playoffs, they beat the Cavs 25-13 Friday night, ending it up 86-65.
In some ways the Cavaliers never recovered after nearly upsetting Golden State on the road in Game 1 of the series. A mental error at the end of the fourth quarter by Cleveland guard J.R. Smith sent a winnable game into overtime, where the Cavaliers lost. The Warriors blew them out in two of the final three games.