The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions once again. The Golden State Warriors, a charter NBA franchise with a legacy that includes the League’s very first championship, earned their second NBA Championship in three years with tonight’s 129-120 Game Five victory over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, climaxing a record-breaking 16-1 (.941) postseason run.
THE REST IS OURS: The Warriors claimed the fifth NBA Championship in franchise history, and their second in three years following a 40-year championship dry spell. . .In the first season of the League — then known as the Basketball Association of America — the Philadelphia Warriors won the 1946-47 Championship, led by coach/owner Eddie Gottlieb and the League’s first scoring champion, Jumpin’ Joe Fulks (23.2), both Hall of Famers. . .In 1955-56, the second year of the 24-second shot clock, the Warriors won the NBA title under rookie head coach George Senesky (who played on the 1946-47 team), led by Hall of Famers Pitchin’ Paul Arizin (24.2 ppg) and Neil Johnston (22.1). . .Twelve years after their move to the Bay Area in 1962-63, the Warriors authored one of the biggest upsets in NBA Playoff annals when they swept the 60-win Washington Bullets in four straight games to claim the 1974-75 title under head coach Al Attles and a total team effort led by Hall of Famer Rick Barry (30.6 ppg). . .They went without a title for the next 40 years, until their six-game triumph over Cleveland in the 2015 Finals, behind rookie coach Steve Kerr, the Splash Brothers combo of League MVP Stephen Curry (23.8 ppg) and Klay Thompson (21.7) and Bill Russell Finals MVP Andre Iguodala (16.3 ppg in Finals).
TWO FOR THREE: Golden State’s championship enabled 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr — a five-time NBA Champion as a player — to claim his second NBA championship in three years as a head coach. . .Kerr, who has a 207-39 (.841) mark in three seasons at the Warriors’ helm, missed 11 games of the 2017 postseason due to a recurring back ailment (with assistant coach Mike Brown coaching the team to an 11-0 mark) before returning for Game Two of The Finals. . .In addition to two NBA titles, Kerr coached the Warriors to their record-breaking 73-9 regular season mark and a Western Conference title in 2015-16.
M-V-P: Eight-time All-Star and 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who climaxed his first season in Golden State by averaging 35.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 60-108 FGA (.556) in The Finals, was voted winner of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, the third Warrior in history to be named to the honor (joining Rick Barry in 1975 and Andre Iguodala in 2015). . .Appearing in his second career Finals (2012 w/OKC), Durant dominated the Finals scene throughout the series:
Game One: Game-high 38 points (14-26 FGA, 3-6 from downtown), eight rebounds, eight assists
Game Two: Game-high 33 points (13-22 FGA, 4-8 from downtown), 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, five blocks
Game Three: Team-high 31 points (10-18 FGA, 4-7 from downtown including the game-turning three-point FG with 45.3 seconds left)
Game Four: Team-high 35 points (9-22 FGA, 15-16 FTA)
Game Five: Team-high 39 points (14-20 FGA, 5-8 from downtown, 6-6 FTA), 11 fourth qtr points, seven rebounds, five assists
KD’s career 28.8 Playoff scoring average (3,048 in 106 games) is fourth in NBA Playoff history (25 games or 625 pts minimum), trailing only Michael Jordan (33.4), Allen Iverson (29.7) and Jerry West (29.1); LeBron James is fifth with 28.4 (6,163 in 217 games).
30 FOR FIVE: In scoring 30+ points in each of Golden State’s five Finals games, Durant became just the sixth player in Finals history (seventh time) to score 30+ in eachgame of a Finals series. . .He joins Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal (twice; in all six games in 2000 vs. Indiana and all four games in 2002 vs. New Jersey); Lakers’ Elgin Baylor (all seven games in 1962 vs. Boston), Warriors’ Rick Barry (all six games in 1967 vs. Philadelphia), Bulls’ Michael Jordan (all six games in 1993 vs. Phoenix) and Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon (all four games in 1995 vs. Orlando).
SIXTEEN-AND-ONE: Warriors went a record-breaking 16-1 (.941) in the 2017 postseason. . .They won their first 15 postseason games in 2017, before losing Game Four of The Finals in Cleveland on Friday night (137-116). . .Warriors’ 15 consecutive postseason wins established an NBA Playoff record for overall consecutive wins (prior record: 13 by the Los Angeles Lakers over the 1988 and 1989 Playoffs, and by Cleveland over the 2016 and 2017 Playoffs). . .Warriors also established a League record for most consecutive wins in one Playoff year (prior record: 12 by San Antonio in 1999). . .ELIAS SAYS: Warriors’ 15 straight Playoff wins are a postseason record in the four major professional team sports, breaking the mark of the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins (14).
PERCENTAGEWISE: Warriors’ .941 winning percentage in the 2017 Playoffs (16-1) smashed the prior NBA mark for highest winning percentage in a Playoff year. . .Prior highest Playoff winning pct. marks were .938 by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001 (15-1), a team which featured Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue; and .923 by the Philadelphia 76ers (12-1) in 1983. . .ALMOST PERFECT: Warriors narrowly missed becoming the first team in NBA history to go through an entire postseason undefeated. . .Elias Says: Since Major League Baseball went to the divisional format in 1969, only one team has gone undefeated in the postseason: the 1976 Cincinnati Reds (beat Philadelphia 3-0 in the NLCS, beat New York Yankees 4-0 in the World Series). . .Since the NHL went to a two, seven-game-round format in 1938-39, two teams have gone undefeated in the postseason: the 1951 Detroit Red Wings (8-0) and the 1959 Montreal Canadiens (8-0).
RINGMASTERS: Six members of Golden State’s 2015 NBA Championship team earned their second championship rings tonight: two-time KIA NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson (whose father Mychal won titles with the 1987 and 1988 Lakers), Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and James Michael McAdoo. . .veterans David West, Zaza Pachulia and Matt Barnes each earned their first NBA title in their 14th NBA seasons. . .Finals MVP Kevin Durant won his first title in his 10thpro campaign, while JaVale McGee (ninth season) and Ian Clark (fourth season) also earned their first rings. . .Second-year pro Kevon Looney and rookies Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw earned their first NBA rings as well.. . .Entering the 2017 NBA Finals, West (95) and Barnes (90) were among the Top Five active players in career playoff games without an NBA Finals appearance.
DEFEND THE LAND: The defending 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers earned their third straight trip to The NBA Finals, as four-time KIA NBA MVP LeBron James (26.4 ppg this year, eighth in NBA) became just the seventh player in NBA history to appear in as many as seven consecutive NBA Finals. . .Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 25.2 ppg (11th in NBA). . .Cavs are 78-45 (.634) under Tyronn Lue, who was named head coach on January 22, 2016. . .Cavs have played to 151 consecutive home sellouts at Quicken Loans Arena.