Kevin Durant signed with Golden State to win a championship.
Outside of the Warriors organization and its fans, it was not a popular decision.
Durant was criticized for his decision to leave a conference finalist (Oklahoma City) and join a team that won 73 regular-season games only to blow a 3-1 Finals lead against the Cavaliers last season.
But if the goal is to win a championship, Durant, who over time dismissed the criticism, accomplished it.
He scored a team-high 39 points in Golden State’s 129-120 victory and was named Finals MVP by 11 voting members of the news media.
The Warriors, who had the best record in the NBA during the past three seasons, needed Durant to beat LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
“What it would be like being a champion, to be crowned a champion?” Durant told USA TODAY Sports before Game 4. “How would that feel in that moment?
“That’s why you have to feel it for yourself. You can fantasize about it all you want. But to do it, you’ve got to stay in that moment.“(Being a champion is) just about that second it happens, that high. Like man, did we just do this? It was a long journey. You hit the top of the mountain. You’re on your way up there. You know how steep it is, and how hard it is to get up top, and when you get there you just take a breath of fresh air.”
Durant, who can become a free agent this summer, scored at least 30 points in every contest of the five-game series and averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds. 5.4 assists and 1.6 blocks and shot 55.5% from the field, including 47.4% on three-pointers.
Before Game 5, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant: “Every player has to get himself ready, based on his own personality. That’s what seems to calm Kevin, just to talk about the moment and being pretty loose and relaxed. That’s good for him.”
That was the case.
He displayed his vast offensive repertoire – three-pointers, mid-range game and finishing at the rim – throughout the series. But he was also a valuable defender.
In the fourth quarter of Game 5, Durant scored 11 points and made baskets when Cleveland had cut Golden State’s lead to three and five points.
In Game 3, he finished off Cleveland with seven of Golden State’s final nine points, including a three-pointer with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter giving the Warriors a 114-113 advantage, a lead they didn’t relinquish.
Source: Jeff Zillgitt| USA Today