Warriors Beat Cavaliers in Game 5 to Win NBA Championship
Golden State Wins Second League Title in Three Years
The Golden State Warriors won the 2017 NBA Championship after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night. Golden State went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter to turn a deficit into a double-digit lead, and the Warriors never trailed from that point on. Kevin Durant was sensational, totaling 39 points, seven rebounds and five assists on his way to being named 2017 NBA Finals MVP. Stephen Curry added 34 points, six rebounds and 10 assists, while Andre Iguodala notched a 2017 postseason-high 20 points off the bench.
When the NBA Finals began, only one of the seven 2017 All-Stars involved in the series lacked a championship on their career resume. That all changed when Kevin Durant joined the club at the conclusion of Game 5 on Monday night, and he added a Finals MVP trophy to his collection to boot. In doing so, he joined Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to win at least four scoring titles and one NBA title.
With their season on the line, Cleveland came out of the gate with the desperation of a team facing elimination. They made six of their first seven shot attempts and took a 13-9 lead on back-to-back layups by Kyrie Irving and LeBron James off of consecutive Warriors’ turnovers. James would add a jumper at the 6:26 mark to increase the Cavaliers’ advantage to 20-12, but that would prove to equal Cleveland’s largest lead of the entire night. Trailing 30-25 with 2:17 remaining in the opening quarter, Stephen Curry and Patrick McCaw would combine for six consecutive free throws to put Golden State momentarily back in front, but a 5-0 Cavaliers’ run to close the frame would put the Dubs behind 37-33 at the end of one.
James provided the first two baskets of the second quarter to rebuild Cleveland’s eight-point advantage, but it would only dwindle from there. David West cut the deficit in half with consecutive scores, after which Andre Iguodala brought Golden State within two with a thunderous one-handed jam.
Tristan Thompson interrupted the burst with a layup, but those would prove to be Cleveland’s only points over the next three minutes. Over that span, the Warriors rediscovered their three-point stroke, and broke the game open in the process. Curry followed consecutive treys by Durant with one of his own to ignite a 15-0 Warriors’ run that gave Golden State their first double-digit lead of the game at 54-43 with 4:39 remaining in the first half. J.R. Smith finally got Cleveland back on the board with a three-pointer of his own, but Draymond Green and Kevin Durant answered right back with consecutive treys in response. Following a Durant jumper, Curry provided the Warriors’ their largest lead of the entire contest with two free throws with 1:09 left in the second quarter, but Cleveland wouldn’t go away without a fight. Smith knocked down two more three-pointers in the remainder of the half, including one with two seconds remaining to cut the Warriors’ lead to 71-60 going into halftime.
The Cavaliers continued to encroach upon Golden State’s advantage throughout the third frame, but try as they might, they proved unable to climb all the way back. Klay Thompson converted two three-pointers within the opening two minutes of the second half, but an 11-3 Cleveland run ignited by yet another Smith three-pointer brought the Cavaliers within 82-77 just prior to the midway point of the third quarter. Curry then scored four-straight points to regain some breathing room, but after Golden State had rebuilt a 10-point lead on two separate occasions, Irving and James combined for six consecutive points to cut the deficit to 90-86 with 3:33 remaining in the third frame. Durant then provided one of numerous timely buckets in the game on the ensuing possession with a three-pointer from the wing, and Golden State would go on to add one more point to their advantage through the remainder of the quarter before Smith’s fifth three-pointer of the contest sent the game into the fourth and final frame with the Warriors clinging to a 98-93 lead.
James scored 26 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a single-possession game, but that would prove to be as close as the Cavaliers would get. Durant answered with a jumper 16 seconds later, and little by little Golden State would rebuild their cushion. Cleveland cut it to a five and six-point game on two separate occasions over the next three minutes, but both times Durant was there with an immediate response to keep the Cavaliers at bay.
After James cut the deficit to 114-106 with 6:13 remaining in regulation, Durant scored the next four points in the game, and Golden State would go on to maintain a double-digit lead until the final seconds. Following another James’ layup, Curry then accounted for four-straight points, and would put the exclamation point on the night when he splashed home the Warriors’ final points of the season on a three-pointer with 42 seconds left to increase their lead to 129-115. Cleveland scored the final five points of the contest, but the damage had been done, as the Golden State Warriors ran out the final 15 seconds to claim their fifth NBA Championship in franchise history, and second in the last three years.
As the confetti rained down from the rafters, the Warriors embraced each other and raised the NBA Championship Trophy at center court amid raucous cheers from the Oracle Arena crowd. In winning Game 5, Golden State finished the 2017 postseason with a 16-1 (.941) mark, the best single-season winning percentage in NBA postseason history. Their average point differential of plus-13.5 points per game in the playoffs ranks as the second-best mark in NBA postseason history behind only the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks (plus-14.5). Kevin Durant was presented with the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Trophy after averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the series to join Magic Johnson and Moses Malone as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP in their first season with their team.