Champs again! Warriors thrash Cavs to complete sweep of NBA Finals

By Mark Medina

The Mercury News

CLEVELAND — The selfless superstar with the deadly 3-point shot smiled, and Stephen Curry’s teammates smiled with him.

The prolific scorer who still cannot escape flak for his free-agency destination gave his teammate a deep hug. After Kevin Durant did that, Klay Thompson hugged right back.

The ferocious defender screamed even louder than he does at opponents and referees, and Draymond Green’s teammates roared in unison.

The Golden State Warriors are champs again. The routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 Friday night to complete a four-game sweep and claim their second NBA title in a row and their third in four years.

They became the ninth team in NBA history to sweep a Finals series, the first to do so since San Antonio swept Cleveland in 2007 and the second Warriors team to achieve the feat since the 1975 victory over the former Washington Bullets.

This outcome seemed inevitable both when they walked on the court and even before the 2017-18 season began. They led by as many as 25 points in Game 4 and never trailed after taking a 44-43 lead with 5:44 left in the first half. Leading 104-79 with 2:47, coach Steve Kerr called timeout and cleared his bench.

Durant won his second consecutive Finals MVP. Durant stated his case by registering his first playoff triple double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Not a bad way for Durant to follow after posting a playoff career-high 43 points in Game 3.

Curry led the scoring in Game 4 with 37 points, bouncing back from a Game 3 in which he missed nine out of 10 shots from three-point range and 13 of 16 overall.

Curry got things started with 12 first-quarter points on 4-of-6 shooting and a 2-3 mark from 3-point range, and his field-goal totals were almost half of Cleveland’s (a combined 8-of-25 from the field). Throughout the night, Curry drained 3-pointers while performing his signature shimmy move.

The Warriors showed once again they are more valuable because of their depth. They won easily despite Thompson going scoreless in the first half on one shot attempt and three fouls. (He finished with 10 points)

The Warriors managed just fine with Durant, Curry and Green (nine points, nine assists) and got a nice boost from Andre Iguodala. In only his second game back from an injury that sidelined him for six games, the veteran swingman gave the Warriors 11 points, hitting three 3-pointers along the way.

That depth proved too overwhelming to a Cleveland team that had few options other than LeBron James (23 points on 7-of-13 shooting) and J.R. Smith (10 points). Cavaliers forward Kevin Love shot only 4-of-13 from the field. George Hill and Rodney Hood shot a combined 5-of-20 from the field. Cleveland shot 30-of-87 overall and 17-of-25 from the free-throw line.

James was given a standing ovation when he was subbed out with 4:03 left and now comes the question of his future. He is a free agent and odds are against him returning to Cleveland.

James reportedly will meet this summer with Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston, Boston, Miami and even the Warriors. Three of their four All-Stars are under contract, and Durant has stated multiple times he will re-sign with the Warriors this summer.

Despite the Warriors’ superior dominance, they navigated a difficult journey.

They battled complacency, overlapping injuries to all their star players and a seven-game series against top-seeded Houston in the Western Conference Finals. After passing all of those tests, the Warriors avoided a letdown like the one they suffered in Game 4 a year ago.