Rarely do we see a sweep in the NBA Finals, but the Golden State Warriors, after sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0, can stake their claim among the greatest teams in NBA history. In covering the NBA Finals every year over my four-decade career, I’ve witnessed a few sweeps in the Finals, of which this is just the eighth.
Back in 2007, the San Antonio Spurs swept Cleveland and LeBron James in his rookie year. Before that, Boston went 4-0 over Minneapolis in 1959, Milwaukee 4-0 over Baltimore in 1971, and Golden State in 1975 swept 4-0 over Washington.
In 1983, Los Angeles swept Philadelphia 4-0. In 1989, Detroit dominated Los Angeles 4-0. Houston swept Orlando in 1995, and in 2002, Los Angeles swept New Jersey 4-0 in the Finals. Since 1947, it rarely happens.
This Warriors squad is special indeed: three titles in four years and the greatest long-range shooting team in NBA history. In this Finals series: 124-114, 122-103, 110-102, and the clincher 108-85.
Kevin Durant was named the Finals MVP for the second straight year. His 43-point explosion in game three and triple-double in the game four clincher gave him the slight edge over Stephen Curry’s 29-, 33-, 11- and 37-point games.
The Warriors shot better than 50 percent in all four Finals games and made more three-point shots. LeBron James opened the Finals with 51 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. He revealed after Game 4 that he injured his own right shooting hand after Game 1, the controversial overtime loss to the Warriors. In that game, officials reversed a critical charging call on Kevin Durant after he drove down the lane with 36 seconds left and Cleveland leading 106-104.
James was victimized on the play; he thought he had absorbed a charging foul. James said after the game he slammed his right hand into a locker room chalk board in frustration and sustained a hairline fracture.
The Warriors’ Durant made two free throws after the call reversal that tied the game 106-106. The margin of winning and losing is so close, it makes you wonder what in the world the Supreme Court was thinking recently voting 6-3 to allow all states to legally gamble now on all games in all sports.
The Warriors with their second-straight title join Boston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Houston and Miami in the back-to-back NBA Championship club. Head Coach Steve Kerr wins his third title as head coach and the eighth overall of his career. He won three times as a player with Chicago and twice with San Antonio.
James is again a free agent – will he leave Cleveland again? And if so, where will he take his talents this time — Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis, Boston? Nine times he has helped his teams reach the NBA Finals.