The end of an era and a dynasty cemented. After a really good Game 1, the 2018 NBA Finals became a lot more of what I expected. LeBron James and the Cavs had hope for the first quarter up until halftime in each game, but when Golden State came out of the locker room, there was no way Cleveland could keep up with them for the full 48 minutes. While Games 1 and 3 were closer, I never had a doubt that the Warriors would pull away in a very quick four game series. Let’s take a look at how they did it.
Game 1- To be honest, luck. The Warriors came out expecting to be able to beat the one-dimensional Cavaliers in four games pretty easily, but James’ 51-point performance proved it would take a little more than showing up to the arena to win the trophy. Nevertheless, the Cavs made mistake after mistake down the stretch as they unraveled after an admittedly bad foul call. A Cleveland road win to kick off the Finals would have changed everything, but no matter which way you spin it, JR Smith’s infamous blunder at the end of regulation ultimately spelled the end of the Cavaliers’ season.
Game 2- Persistence. After escaping disaster in Game 1, the Warriors were not about to be embarrassed on their home floor. They came out strong out of the gate making their first seven shots, and the Cavs never even got close. You’ve probably heard about how good the Warriors are in the 3rd quarter, so I found it interesting that the Cavs actually made some decent adjustments and won the period by 3. Still, Golden State stayed strong and continued to shoot well. Cleveland was torched by 19 by the final whistle, but there was still hope to get one back on their home floor.
Game 3- Grit. I missed the majority of the Game 3 battle because I was working, but I got to a TV just in time to see Kevin Durant bury his 41st, 42nd, and 43rd points of the night on a late 3 to put the dagger in the Cavs. Despite trailing for the entire first half, the Warriors kept the Cavs close and were able to finally finish off the comeback in their deadly third quarter. However, the war wasn’t over as Cleveland wasn’t about to let Game 3 slip away that easily. In a back-and-forth second half, the Warriors never lost sight of the prize, and leaned on a crucial performance from Durant to put the Cavs in a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 hole.
Game 4- Closing. Apparently, the series was over before this game started. With the way the Cavs approached this game, despite their false confidence in the press conferences, it was simply a formality for the Warriors to just show up and play an average game to close the door. While, granted, Curry had a spectacular showing, GSW won by 23 despite only scoring 108 points. Make no mistake, that’s harder than it looks. Up 3-0, it’s easy to play lazy with such a big cushion. But with the Cavs chucking 3s and failing to build chemistry or any kind of momentum, fans were treated to a pretty boring Game 4 that gave a steady build to a series sweep.
Luck, persistence, grit, and an ability to close. Add it up and you have a winning formula for a dominant NBA championship run. Now winners of the Larry O’Brien trophy for the third time in four years, the city of Oakland officially has an NBA dynasty. Better yet, they’re not done. With all of the big pieces returning next year, the only drama in the organization is how long they will be together and how much money it will take to keep them there.
On the other hand, Cleveland’s time with LeBron James is sure to come to an end. After a Herculean year for The King, James made it back to his 8th straight NBA Finals before being undone by his own players. With frustrations mounting, he broke his own hand in the locker room after Game 1, and is sure to sever his ties with the city he loves… for now. The world waits to hear who the greatest basketball player of this generation will take to the NBA Finals next year.
This closes the book on Golden State v. Cleveland IV. The Warriors are on top of the world once again, and the other 29 teams will try to figure out a plan in the coming months to cut this dynasty short.
Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, 2018 NBA Champions!