Warriors Complete Sweep, Repeat as Champs

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Wrap-Up -- Through the first three games of the 2018 Finals, the Wine & Gold went toe-to-toe with the reigning Champs. On Friday night, their season of stress finally caught up to them as Golden State blew the Cavaliers out, 108-85, at The Q to earn its third NBA Championship in the last four years.

The Cavaliers led by a single point – twice during a brief second-quarter surge – but it was all Warriors the rest of the way in Game 4, sweeping Cleveland in the unprecedented fourth Finals meeting between these two franchises.

Cleveland trailed by only nine points at the break, but tallied only 13 points in the third quarter as Golden State took a three-touchdown lead into the fourth quarter. The only drama left at that point was whether Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant would be named Finals MVP.

That honor went to Durant – who led the Warriors past Cleveland in Game 3 with 43 points and notched a triple-double on Friday – for the second straight season. On the night, the nine-time All-Star finished with 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting, leading both teams with 12 boards, 10 assists, a steal and three blocked shots.

LeBron James, who left to a standing ovation with just over four minutes to play in regulation, paced the Wine & Gold with 23 points, going 7-of-13 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the stripe, adding a team-high eight assists to go with seven boards and a block.

The four-time MVP got off to a scorching start in the series, netting 51 points in Game 1, 29 points and 13 boards in Game 2 and a 33-point triple-double on Wednesday night. But the weight of having to shoulder so much of the load throughout the Playoffs seemed to catch up with James in Friday’s finale.

In the 2018 Playoffs, the game’s greatest player averaged 34.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 22 contests – topping the 40-point plateau eight times, including his 51-point outburst against the Warriors, and a pair of buzzer-beaters over Indiana and Toronto.

”To be the best player in the world and to give everything you've got in your 15th season, play all 82 games, probably one of the greatest playoff runs that we'll ever see from an individual, to carry this team the way he did all season and leading by example,” praised Coach Tyronn Lue. “It's just a testament to his character and who he is as a person and as a player.”

LeBron didn’t get a ton of help from his supporting cast in Game 4.

Kevin Love failed to double-up for the first time in the series and struggled mightily from the floor – chipping in with 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting, including 2-of-5 from long-range, adding nine boards, a pair of assists and a steal in the loss.

JR Smith notched double-figures for the third time in the series – but he didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard doing so, netting 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. Smith, who’s 2018 Finals run got off to a rough start and never quite straightened out, shot just 31 percent from the floor in the Finals.

Kevin Love and JR Smith

Cavs have four players tally double figures in the Game 4 loss.

Rodney Hood was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – also adding 10 points -- but it took the four-year vet 14 shots to get them, finishing 4-of-14 from the floor to go with eight boards and a pair of steals.

Overall, the Cavaliers were held to just 34 percent shooting on the night, including an 8-of-27 mark from beyond the arc. Cleveland’s three top reserves on Friday – Hood, Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. were a combined 9-for-29 from the field while the Cavs’ starting backcourt of JR Smith and George Hill – who scored three points on 1-for-7 shooting – were outscored by the Dubs’ dynamic duo by a combined mark of 47-13.

For all the press Golden State’s potent offense gets, it was their defense that kept the Cavaliers in check in these Finals – holding Cleveland to 41 percent shooting in the series, including 29 percent from beyond the arc.

Steph Curry led all scorers in Game 4, finishing with 37 points on 12-for-27 shooting, including a 7-for-15 mark from long-range and a perfect 6-of-6 from the stripe – adding six boards, four assists, three steals and three blocked shots.

Overall, the Warriors shot 45 percent from the floor and canned 14 three-pointers. They were a perfect 16-of-16 from the stripe and handed out 25 assists on 39 made baskets.

Turning Point -- The Cavaliers have struggled in the third quarter all year long and throughout the Playoffs; the Warriors have been razor-sharp in the third quarter all year long and throughout the Playoffs.

That trend played out at the worst possible time – with the Warriors turning it up offensively while holding the Wine & Gold to 24 percent shooting in the period. Golden State scored the first six points of the quarter and ran a nine-point halftime lead to 21 after three – essentially putting the game on ice.

”That has been out Achilles’ heel the entire year, and they have been great in the third quarter,” said Kevin Love. “They showed a lot of effort and grit, mucked up the game quite a bit and just hit shots from all over the court. It was a tough third quarter for us.”

By the Numbers11 … consecutive Finals contests in which LeBron James has tallied at least 25 points, eight boards and eight assists. No other player in NBA Finals history has ever done that in back-to-back contests. James finished the postseason having now led his team in points, rebounds and assists on 66 occasions. The next closest players are Larry Bird and Tim Duncan with 21 apiece.

QuotableLeBron James, on guiding the Cavaliers through the postseason …

”Our season was kind of the unknown. I wondered if we could hit a switch in the postseason. I figured if I stayed laser sharp, if I came in with the right mentality, if I came in with the right mindset, that I could help fast-track this throughout a lot of the games in the postseason because of my experience and because of some of the other guys that experienced a lot of games. I was able to do that. We were able to do that.”

Up Next -- The Wine & Gold have the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA Draft on June 21 and a free agency period after that. The Cavaliers will then take their annual visit to the desert for Las Vegas Summer League from July 6 through the 17.

Calls of the Game