After missing their shot at a 16-0 playoff record, the Golden State Warriors settled for redemption and justification, returning to Oracle Arena to clinch victory they couldn’t pull off after winning three games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, according to sports website espn.com.
This fall, Kevin Durant will have the answer to all the criticism he endured since last summer, when he announced his decision to join the Warriors as a free agent. He’ll get a championship ring after he scored 39 points — 11 of them in the fourth quarter, in the Warriors’ 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Stephen Curry had the answer to his disappointing 2016 Finals with 34 points himself.
As if to answer all of the legends who don’t like watching them shoot all those 3-pointers and hate the idea of superstars teaming up, Durant and Curry began the game by going to the hoop, old school.
Durant had two driving layups in the first quarter and Curry had a couple himself. In the fourth quarter, with the Cavaliers still lingering after all of the swings the Warriors took at them, Curry and Durant resumed going to the hoop to get a 12—point lead that the Warriors protected until the end this time.
And Draymond Green, who missed the pivotal Game 5 last year after being suspended for an accumulation of flagrant fouls, had 10 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
The Warriors returned to their most Warrior-like ways in the second quarter, outscoring Cleveland 38-23, with 21 of the points coming from Curry and Durant.
Green was back to making a variety of contributions, from helping out on defense to making smart passes (he had six assists in his first 23 minutes. He also kept his cool even as tempers flared in the second quarter.
When David West and Tristan Thompson squared off, with J.R. Smith entering the mix, Green peeled off Smith — and nothing came of that potentially volatile pairing. LeBron James and other Cavaliers kept talking to Green throughout the quarter and he responded by smiling each time.
Green even saved Klay Thompson from a potentially calamitous fall by alertly grabbing him after Thompson had been upended in midair.
It took a while, but the Warriors finally got the usual home benefit for the bench players, in addition to the unique boost from the Oracle Arena crowd when things are going the Warriors’ way.
Andre Iguodala and David West posted a combined 12 points in the second quarter, giving the Warriors some traction between 3-pointers by Durant.
Steve Kerr finally got to play an extended stretch with the “Hamptons Five” lineup of Curry, Durant, Green, Iguodala and Klay Thompson.
Foul trouble for Green and fear of allowing Tristan Thompson to control all the rebounds had limited the group to only 17 minutes together in the first four games. The group that gathered together in New York last summer to formulate the superteam played the last three minutes of the first half together, and a 36-11 run took the Warriors lead as high as 17 points and the noise in the packed building reach eardrum-rattling levels.
But a couple of long 3-pointers by Smith in the final minute pulled the Cavaliers within 11 points at halftime. The Cavaliers would not go away.
The Golden State Warriors are even bigger favorites next year.
The Warriors, fresh off a win in the Finals over the Cleveland Cavaliers, are listed as minus-200, odds-on favorites to win next year’s NBA championship, a historic price on a preseason favorite.
“They’re going to be the highest favorite we’ve ever had going into a season, any team in any sport,” Jeff Sherman, NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, told ESPN.
Before this season’s Finals tipped off, the Westgate SuperBook installed Golden State as a minus-160 favorite to win next year’s title. Oddsmakers increased the Warriors’ odds to minus-200, after Golden State made quick work of the Cavaliers, capping a 16-1 record through the playoffs.
The Warriors began the 2016-17 season as a minus-150 favorite and remained on top of Las Vegas odds boards throughout the season. They were underdogs in only three games this season and won 31 of their last 33 games, including their prolific postseason run.
The Cavaliers are the clear-cut second favorite to win next year’s title at 3-1 at the SuperBook. Cleveland and Golden State are the only teams with single-digit odds.
The San Antonio Spurs are next at 12-1, followed by the Boston Celtics at 15-1. Every other team is listed at 30-1 or more.
The Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings are the biggest long shots to win next year’s championship, each listed at 1,000-1.
NBA free agency begins July 1. Golden State point guard Stephen Curry is an unrestricted free agent and forward Kevin Durant has a player option, but neither is expected to break from the Warriors. Los Angeles Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward are among the impact players who could be on the move this summer, as teams try to figure out how to stop Golden State.
Indiana Pacers guard Paul George, who has one year left on his current contract, has been mentioned as an addition that could narrow the gap between the Cavaliers and Warriors.
“Adding [George] to the mix might be the closest thing we could see to another team challenging [Golden State] next year,” Sherman said, adding that the Warriors would still be the favorite even if Cleveland added George.