OAKLAND — Stephen Curry dribbled out the shot clock in the final minute of Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, desperate to find a shred of daylight. He finally got a half-step and pulled up in Kyrie Irving’s face, draining a 3-pointer from the wing.
Oracle Arena erupted as it became undeniably apparent of what just happened. The reigning MVP had just buried the dagger on the player who tore out the heart of Bay Area NBA fans a little less than a year ago.
It was the most fitting way for the Golden State Warriors to reclaim their mantle as NBA Champions in a 129-120 victory, clinching a 4-1 series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As is traditionally the case, it was Klay Thompson who put it succinctly when asked how the Dubs did it: “I have the best team behind me.”
In Game 5 — like most of the season — it showed.
Finals MVP Kevin Durant scored 39 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. Curry finished with 34 as well as 10 assists and six boards. It capped a 16-1 postseason, the highest winning percentage in league history.
Durant averaged 35.2 points per game, 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and a steal. He was a unanimous choice for the top honor in the Finals, which was sweet to him after hearing months of invective that said he was joining the Warriors to ride the coattails of a 73-win team.
“I hear all the narratives throughout the season that I was joining, I was hopping on bandwagons, I was letting everybody else do the work. But then that was far from the truth,” he said, beaming with the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award sitting on the table next to him.
With 5 minutes remaining, Durant caught the ball in the high post, turned and found a lane he exploited for an easy basket, giving the Dubs a 118-106 advantage. It was one of the earliest moments that it became increasingly clear Durant had earned his first title.
“It feels amazing to win a championship with these guys,” he said before admitting the beers he had drank in the locker room were having an effect. “I can’t wait to celebrate for the rest of the night — well, maybe the rest of the summer.”