Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors to win his first NBA championship.
The Warriors have defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, clinching their second title in three years and their fifth in team history. Durant led Golden State with 39 points, seven rebounds and five assists and was named NBA Finals MVP.
Following the win, he embraced his mother, Wanda Durant, on the court.
“I’m proud of you, son,” she said.
This was the first time in NBA history the same two teams met in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. The Warriors won the title in 2015 in six games, while the Cavaliers dramatically won in 2016 in seven, becoming the first team in NBA history to win a series trailing 3-1.
Cavs-Warriors III had even more star power than 2016. Last summer, Durant, who decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, elected to join forces with another superstar in Stephen Curry as well as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to make Golden State a super team, and the group was close to unstoppable in the regular season and postseason.
While the Warriors didn’t surpass their NBA record of 73 regular-season from 2016 (they settled for 67 this year), they still had the NBA’s best regular-season record. Golden State went 16-1 in this year’s playoffs, good for the highest winning percentage (.941) in a single postseason, surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers from 2001 (15-1, .938).
The Warriors also did much of this without their head coach, Steve Kerr, on the sideline for an extended period of this postseason. Kerr coached the first two games of Golden State’s first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in April but stepped away because he was experiencing complications from back surgery from two years ago.
During his absence, Kerr was still involved at practice, but he handed the game day responsibilities to assistant coach Mike Brown. Golden State went 11-0 during that stretch before Kerr returned for Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Monday’s loss denied the Cavaliers a chance to repeat as champions and for LeBron James to get his fourth championship ring. It was his seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, the only non-Boston Celtic to do so. It also kept the Cavaliers from becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from trailing 3-0 to win a best-of-seven series.