The Golden State Warriors captured their second NBA title in the past three years on Monday night as they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The series had been seen as the rubber match between the two teams that were meeting in the Finals for the third consecutive year, the first time that had happened in league history.
The turning point in the game took place in the second quarter, with Cleveland leading by a 41-33 score. At that point, Golden State scored 28 of the next 32 points to take a 61-45 lead. At that point, a heated dispute between Golden State’s David West and the Cleveland duo of Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith resulted in technical fouls being assessed to all three players.
The Warriors held a 71-60 halftime advantage, with subsequent comeback attempts during the second half of action by the Cavaliers were never able to get the margin closer than three the rest of the game.
The Golden State duo of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry combined for 73 points on the night, with Durant’s 39 points cementing his award for Most Valuable Player in the series. While the victory for the Warriors was their second championship since 2015 and third in their history, it marks Durant’s first since he entered the NBA a decade ago.
Durant’s decision last year to leave his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Warriors, caused much of the same criticism that the Cavaliers’ LeBron James had faced in 2010. That was when he left Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat, before returning to his hometown team four years later.
Despite the loss, James performed admirably in his seventh consecutive Finals appearance. He scored 41 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out eight assists. He also made league history by becoming the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double, which are double-digit numbers in three different statistical categories.