The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Warriors, Durant storm to finals win

Kevin Durant shines as NBA Finals MVP.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant gestures as he holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after Game 5 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Monday, June 12, 2017. The Warriors won 129-120 to win the NBA championship. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Adam Hensley

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Some call him a snake, others refer to him as a cupcake after his decision to leave Oklahoma City and sign with Golden State.

Say what you want, but Kevin Durant is officially an NBA champion.

Durant and the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, in Game Five, winning the series 4-1.

“It was 55 seconds left, and I went other over to half-court line, and I bent down, and I’m like, ‘Is this really happening?’ ” Durant said after the game. “And Draymond [Green] was like, ‘Keep playing to the end.’ Andre [Iguodala] is like, ‘Keep playing. We have like 50 seconds left.’ And I’m like, ‘Bro, we’re about to win the title.’ ”

Durant’s 39 points led the Warriors’ charge. He made 14 of his 20 shots, including five 3-pointers.

The Finals MVP averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1 steal over the course of the five-game series.

He was the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 to score 30 or more points in five-straight finals games.

“I just tried to stay in the moment the whole series, and I think that worked for me,” Durant said. “I remember plenty of times throughout my career I continued to just look in the past, and look ahead, and not stay in the moment. In this series, I just stayed in the moment. And we did it together.”

On the other side of the ball, LeBron James put on a basketball clinic for the ages in the losing effort.He averaged 33.6 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1 block in the finals.

James became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in a finals series.

But in the end, the 32-year old couldn’t corral back-to-back championships.

“Not one time did I feel like we were overmatched until probably like I looked up, there was like a minute 20, and we were down 13, I believe, or something at that point,” James said. “And I was like, OK, we left everything on the floor, and it still wasn’t enough.”

2017 marked James’ seventh-consecutive finals appearance. His loss at the hands of Golden State moved him to 3-5 in his eight trips to the finals.

The Cavaliers held a 37-33 advantage after one quarter, but the Warriors stormed back in the second quarter, taking a 71-60 lead at the half.

Cleveland battled back to keep the score close heading into the fourth quarter, but Golden State proved to be too much down the stretch.

“I think it was a typical closeout game,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said. “I think our guys just did a good job of hanging in there. We kept the lead at 6, 8 points, or the deficit. And it was just a matter of time before we were going to break through. We had that huge run in the second quarter, which changed everything.”

Game Five wasn’t all Durant; Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Iguodala added 20 off the bench, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Curry sank a contested 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining in the game to hammer in the final nail in the Cavaliers’ coffin.

Golden State took the series’ first three games before Cleveland won a game at home, creating a 3-1 deficit. Unlike last season, there will be no jokes about blowing a 3-1 lead; the Warriors took care of business in championship fashion.

Golden State’s win gave the franchise its fifth NBA title, which ties the San Antonio Spurs for the fourth most in league history.

“I’m just so happy for Kevin [Durant],” Kerr said. “I’m happy for all of our guys.”

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