Around the NBA: Surprise! It’s Warriors/Cavs in the NBA Finals
Surprise! It's going to be the Golden State Warriors taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth straight year in the NBA Finals.
On Monday night, the Warriors defeated the Rockets 101-92 to advance to the Finals for yet another season.
In what could have been the year the Rockets finally overcame the hump and took down the Warriors, they had an awful, inconsistent second half, missed 27 3-pointers at one point, and looked lifeless without Chris Paul, who missed his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.
Eventual MVP James Harden had a painful shooting game. While he did manage to score 32 points, Harden was 12-of-29 from the field, 2-of-13 from beyond in 43 minutes. Eric Gordon scored 23, Clint Capela had 20, and P.J. Tucker finished with 14 points to round out the starters scoring numbers.
Trevor Ariza, whose seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals weren't able to overshadow his zero points on 0-for-12 shooting from the field, 0-for-9 from downtown in 42 minutes.
The Rockets' starters played almost collectively the entire game, while three bench players found time in Gerald Green (21 minutes), Ryan Anderson (8), and Joe Johnson (5) for a total of three points between the three of them.
Houston shot 40 percent (36-90) from the field, 15.9 percent (7-44) from 3, and were 59.1 percent (13-22) from the free throw line.
Golden State wasn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's second half rally proved to be enough to come away with it's fourth straight Western Conference crown.
Kevin Durant's 34 points and nearly flawless execution late in the game proved to be enough. Stephen Curry finished with 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting, 7-of-15 behind the arc, and an uncharacteristic nine rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals. Klay Thompson didn't have nearly the kind of game he had on Saturday in Golden State for Game 6, but he did go 8-for-13 from the field, 3-for-7 from downtown for 19 points.
Like the Rockets, the Warriors didn't get the best bench production, using a total of five players for seven points. Rookie Jordan Bell played the best out of all of them, not scoring a point, but managing to grab five boards, three assists, a steal, and two blocks. Bell's +/- was a team-high plus-17 on Monday night.
The Warriors were 48.8 percent (39-80) from the field as a team, 41 percent (16-39) from beyond-the-arc, and 50 percent (7-14) from the foul line.
Golden State advances to face the Cleveland Cavaliers, who ousted the Boston Celtics in seven games on Sunday night.
Like this game, it was dominated at the end by the winning team, not allowing a chance for closeness at any point of time.
LeBron James has proven once again why he's the King and the best player in the world, just for the way he has played without much support around him.
The Cavs took Game 7 by a score of 87-79 at the TD Garden to hand the Celtics their first home loss of the playoffs. James paced Cleveland for 35 points, 15 revounds, and nine assists, but also had a game-high eight turnovers to his name.
LeBron played literally all 48 minutes of the ballgame, not resting once. And the Cavs only scored 87 points, showing exactly how important LeBron is to this team. The Cavs missed Kevin Love who was forced into concussion protocol after hitting his head in Game 6. Jeff Green scored 19 points with eight rebounds in 42 minutes to be LeBron's second-in-command for Game 7. J.R. Smith had 12 points, Tristan Thompson had 10, and George Hill six for the Cleveland starters.
Kyle Korver led the bench with three points on 1-of-6 3-point attempts in eight minutes, while Larry Nance Jr. had two points in eight minutes with four personal fouls. That was about it for the Cleveland bench who showed their non-existence and irrelevance once again.
The Cavs shot 45.5 percent (30-66) from the field, 25.7 percent (9-35) from downtown, and 72 percent (18-25) from the charity stripe. The Celtics were 34.1 percent (29-85) from the field, a horrid 17.9 percent (7-39) from 3, and 73.7 percent (14-19) from the free throw line.
The Celtics definitely could have used better 3-point shooting from their players after going a total of 7-of-39, but "Scary" Terry Rozier was definitely scary, finishing 2-for-14 from the field, an awful 0-for-10 from downtown in 36 minutes.
The story of Game 7 on Sunday night was the intense battle between LeBron and Boston rookie Jayson Tatum who dazzled his way to 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds, a steal, and an assist in 42 minutes.
As the NBA gets ready for the NBA Finals starting Thursday in Golden State, the Warriors are in search of their third title in four years, and LeBron is looking for title No. 4 for his career, in his eighth consecutive title shot.
The matchup between Golden State and Cleveland for the fourth year in a row is the most consecutive championship matchups between the same two teams among any of the main four sports (NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL).
At the end of the day, LeBron has been elite, almost inhuman like for most of the playoffs. He's taken the Cavs to the promised land yet another year, this time without much of a supporting cast. Even if Love is cleared to play from a concussion, the level James must play on to stop a healthy team of Curry, Durant, Klay, and Draymond Green is unreal. It's going to take a whole lot of luck and strategy to compete with the Warriors for the NBA's top prize.
Josh Liddick is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and Sixers managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.