By Larry Fitzgerald
June 6, 2017
OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors are on a mission, and that mission is to cement themselves as among the greatest teams in NBA history. They are halfway to the greatest Championship post-season run in NBA history.
After smashing the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 and 132-113 in the first two games at Oracle Arena of the 2017 NBA Finals, it’s no secret they are as good as advertised. Golden State is the 33rd team in NBA Finals history to lead 2-0 in the Finals. Twenty eight of the previous 32 times, the team up 2-0 has won the Championship.
Both wins over Cleveland were similar in the sense that the Warriors blew open the games in the third period. In game one, the Warriors had just four turnovers. Kevin Durant scored 38 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Curry had 28 points and 10 assists.
Let me remind you that the Warriors already are the greatest NBA team over three years in terms of regular-season wins. Over the last three years the Warriors have won 67, 73 and 67 games in the regular season — that’s 207 wins. In 2015 they beat Cleveland four games to two in the NBA Finals. Last year Cleveland shocked the world by rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to grab the crown in an epic 93-89 game seven.
That loss denied the Warriors’ confirmation as the greatest single-season championship team ever. You see, they had the record 73 wins but no title. The Chicago Bulls, 72-10, won the NBA Championship and is regarded as the greatest team in NBA history. You can argue and debate it, but the fact remains that to finish first you must first finish.
By not winning the title last year after winning all those games and to have had history and the championship in their grasp has tormented this team. Signing All-Star Kevin Durant virtually made this team unstoppable. And to have the opportunity to beat the same Cleveland team that took their championship away has made the Warriors focused.
This team with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant is the best team I’ve seen since the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen-Dennis Rodman Chicago Bulls, who won three NBA Titles in a row in the late ’90s.
LeBron James, as great as he is, can’t be counted out. Last year he led the Cavaliers all the way back from a 2-0 and 3-1 deficit to win Cleveland’s first championship of any kind in 54 years.
But this Warriors team is virtually unbeatable. They finished the regular season 15-1. Since the playoffs have begun, they are the first team in NBA history — that’s 71 years — to stand 14-0 and two wins shy of a 16-0 unbeaten run to the title. The Los Angeles Lakers finished 15-1 to capture the crown.
The Warriors’ system is predicated on movement spacing and sharing the basketball. When you can combine hard work, talent, and a great system, and you are well coached, you win 29 of 30 games, which is what they have done. Take it to the bank: Cleveland may get one game or two, but I don’t think they can beat this team four times in five games.
In game two, Durant scored 33 points with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. Curry had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. LeBron James had a triple double also with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and a game-high 14 assists. Former Timberwolves star Kevin Love had 27.
James, with 18 career playoff triple doubles, eight of them in the Finals, ties Magic Johnson’s record with the Lakers also with eight in the Finals. James and Curry both had triple doubles — that’s the first time that’s happened in the Finals. Cleveland is the first team to trail 0-2 in back-to-back NBA Finals.
With Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green, stranger things have happened, and I have seen some strange things happen. After all, this is just a game of basketball. However, with Head Coach Steve Kerr back directing his team after a marvelous job by Mike Brown stepping in, it’s a matter of time and games. The Warriors will win it, because there’s no stopping the Warriors.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.