warriors clinch nba title at home with game 5 win over cavs
In a flash, it was all over.
Down 33-41 less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Warriors put together a 21-2 run over the next 5:35 of game time and never looked back. The series was a “quickie” in all aspects, as Draymond Green noted during yesterday’s parade through downtown Oakland.
Had they looked in the rear-view mirror, they would’ve seen a worthy opponent doing all they can to get close. A worthy opponent that embodied and encapsulated a year of hard work and sacrifice. A year played by a selfless team left with a poor taste in their mouth after coughing up a second-straight title.
But for all the hours the Warriors spent working to get back to this point, all it took was a little over five minutes to make it a certainty. Well, and the other three finals games, of course. All right, the 82 regular season and 12 postseason games mattered, too. But you get my point…
It was a fitting end for the Warriors to shellack the Cavaliers in those five minutes as it was a perfect representation of the team at their best. High-flying, bomb-dropping offense combined with suffocating defense is Golden State’s trademark.
This closeout game was a far cry from their most recent opportunity to close out an NBA Finals at home. In Game 7 last year, the Warriors only mustered 89 points for the entire contest and, unsurprisingly so based off their total, shot poorly as a team. Steph Curry, first and foremost. This year, in the Warriors first NBA Finals closeout win in their last four opportunities (dating back to last year), Curry scored 34 points on only two three-pointers. In a sign he and the team learned a lesson from last year, Curry had more free-throw attempts in Game 5 (15) this year than the entire team did in Game 7 last year (13). In other words, Golden State was making plays in the paint. As a reminder, they attempted just one shot closer than 15 feet to the basket in the last almost-five minutes of game time in Game 7. The lesson learned – even the greatest jump-shooting team of all-time can’t always overcome dead legs at the end of the game.
Even with the immensely improved Finals production by Curry, he still was unable to capture his first NBA Finals MVP honor. That award went to Kevin Durant, and deservedly so. Only Allen Iverson, in 2001, has scored more points in a five-game NBA Finals than Durant. As for Curry, I think he’ll get his fourth crack at Finals MVP next year, while some (the creator of this site included) think Durant is poised for his second league MVP title.
Regardless of awards, the Bay Area ended a string of title-holders clinching their championships away from home. For all the San Francisco 49ers success in the 1980’s and 1990’s, they could never clinch a title at home because the Super Bowl is held at neutral-site locations. The Oakland A’s won the 1989 ‘Bay Bridge’ World Series by clinching the sweep in San Francisco against the Giants. While the A’s won their title close to home, as did the 1984 49ers (who won Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium in nearby Palo Alto), I’m not counting them because it didn’t happen in their home confines. The Giants finally won their first World Series while based in San Francisco in 2010, with two championships following suit in 2012 and 2014. All three titles were clinched on the road in Arlington, Tex., Detroit, and Kansas City, in that order.
The Warriors clinched their first title since 1975 in Cleveland following the 2015 NBA Finals.
Instead of the championship trophy – whether it be the Lombardi, Commissioner’s, or Larry O’Brien trophy – having to travel back to the bay with the champions, the 2017 Warriors made sure it was already in-house so it could be proudly and triumphantly hoisted in front of the home fans at Oracle Arena.
While a Giants title or a Raiders title are titles for San Francisco and Oakland respectively, the Warriors title is for the Bay.
When the Warriors won several nights ago, it was truly the Bay’s Day.