The 2018 NBA Finals that saw a rematch of the last three finals has ended in a very short span with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0, first sweep of the finals since 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs won the crown defeating the same opposition.
Even though the series lasted just more than a week, it had enough action to be remembered for long, let’s have a look back at the top 5 moments of the NBA Finals 2018 that make it special.
Kevin Durant Dagger:
Game 3, Warriors 103- 100 Cleveland, Kevin Durant, the 2017 Finals MVP brings the ball into the frontcourt and dribbles on with Rodney Hood guarding, 55 secs on the clock, 7 secs on the shot clock, calls Iguodala for a high screen, J.R. Smith comes along as well. There’s a screen, J.R.Smith tries to switch, 3.7s on the shot clock, release, BANG! From way outside the 3-pt line, Kevin Durant delivers!
It was a repeat of the Game 3 shot in the 2017 Finals when the score was at 111-113 in the favor of Cavs from just beyond the arc and they went on to win it 118-113. The distance just increased! and that’s an indicator of how he has improved this season!
He went on to score 43 points 13 rebounds and 3 assists shy of a triple-double. This time again the Dubs get the W at 110-102 on the away court and this made a strong statement for his claim of back to back Finals MVP!
LeBron James self-pass:
Another highlight from Game 3 itself, coming back to the home court with a 2-0 deficit, the Cavs started strong with Kevin Love scoring until this happened when the King show started.
Cavs lead 12-4, not even 2 and half minutes into the game, James with the ball, McGee on him, James dribbles on, trying to find some space. Its 5 on the shot clock, James fakes, McGee jumps, James under, bangs the ball onto the board, slips under McGee, jumps, collects and SLAMS! The QuickenLoans Arena has come out to life!
And this play pretty much sums up the way the Cavaliers have been going all through the season, every time they don’t find help from the other players. LeBron has used all his ability to put the team in front on his own shoulders.
Back to Back Triples from Stephen Curry:
After a controversy-filled first game, the Oracle Arena was all set for an exciting game 2 and Stephen Curry offered what the spectators wanted with a record-breaking three point shooting display (Highest number of threes scored in a single finals game: 9)
The media was in all praise about the 5 triples and the burst in the 4th Quarter. But, it all started way back in the end of the first half! Even though the Warriors had a flying start offensively with the 15 pt run with 7/7 at the start of the game, Curry who got his first three 8 mins into the game, scored 3 back to back triples in 5 minutes in the 2nd quarter and that is what got him his rhythm and as usual changing ends didn’t have an affect on Curry.
At the halfway mark of the second quarter, the silent Curry was fed a wonderful ball and created space by Draymond Green with a roll and a screen from David West and two time MVP gets enough time to strike a triple!
The second one came out with McGee providing a screen and forcing Love to stretch but Curry drills it with 2mins left on the clock.
The third triple of the quarter way more special as Curry collects the rebound and dribbles the ball to the top of the three himself to see a split-second switch between J.R.Smith and Tristan Thompson on the run at the top of the D and releases it with 19 on the shot clock.
And when Curry hits in the flow, there is no stopping him! He went on to score 33 points in the game giving an unassignable 2-0 lead which provided the Warriors to conclude the series at Cleveland.
The 3rd Quarter Huddle and LeBron’s long walk!
It was the do or die game for the Cavaliers after Kevin Durant’s MVP performance in game 3, the home team was expecting to win the second game at Quicken Loans to stay alive and extend the series.
But the start itself was so shaky that the visitors took the game under control right away demanding extra effort from the Cleveland bound team to even get level and this was enough to tire the team out!
After a very tight first half when the Cavs were down as much as 12 for most of the period, the teams went into the break with a 9 point difference. The third quarter, the period when the Warriors turn the most dangerous with their pace and splash shooting, just didn’t hesitate to continue their routine!
The lead grew to 15 within a minute and a half and Tyronn Lue calls time to stop the flow and start some offense of their own. But, the timeout did harm more than good to the home team as LeBron James was all fumed and tired finally showing some signs of fatigue after a 7 game conference finals and some long minutes in the finals. For a team which is built all around the legend, there is no doubt this had an intense impact on the rest of the team and this is when most Cavs fans might have felt the game is out of their hands!
But there was a small spark of hope lit as the team somehow managed to cut down the lead to single digits (9) within the next 2 and a half not allowing the Warriors to score at all during this period. Steve Kerr then decides to talk over and to get their offense right and then there was no turning back for the visitors! The lead grew exponentially!
With the score at 77-102 with 4:03 remaining on the clock in the final period, the 4 time MVP walked off the court leaving the NBA finals for the eighth straight time and second time in a row with disappointment! The whole arena was standing up in honor of the legend and LeBron took time to congratulate all the Warriors players on the court before heading to the dressing room! With speculations that the 33yr old is contemplating on talks to change jerseys post the season, the fans gave it all to their favorite player who gave them their first-ever championship (2015-16) after 46yrs in what is possibly his last game in the Wine and Gold! With the level of fitness and determination that LeBron has been successfully maintaining for the past 15yrs, there is no stopping his strive for greatness in the coming seasons unless if he chooses to stay with his family and enjoy with his kids!
The Free Throw
The most memorable moment (For various reasons) for both the fans of Warriors and Cavaliers is perhaps undoubtedly the missed George Hill free throw in Game-1. Which for many people was the turning point of the series where the Cavs lost it to the defending champs.
The possession was as follows: Cavs trail by one, 106-107 with 23.5 on the clock in the final quarter. The ball is in the Cavaliers hands, they have a timeout, decide not to take it. Maybe to run a set-piece. James leads the ball into the frontcourt. Guarded by Curry, he gets double teamed by Green with 13 on the shot clock, he plays the ball wide out to George Hill who is unguarded. The ball comes to James with Curry again on him. 8 on the shot clock James is yet to run the ball, Hill cuts through the back door, James passes the ball, Klay Thompson goes for the denial and pulls the arm of Hill! A foul called on Klay with 4.7 remaining on the clock and Hill to the free-throw, a chance to level and even get the lead!
The whole of Oracle is up, both the benches have none sitting. All tensed, crunch time free throws and Hill hits the first! The Cavs call in Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green to have an advantage in the rebound but its still J.R.Smith in the line-up codon. Balls up in the air hits the front end of the rim and Hill misses! The ball rises up and rebound J.R.Smith! Nobody in front of him and the basket. KD is a bit wayward, they barely have 4 on the clock. Everyone was expecting a shot, BUT J.R.Smith dribbles the ball out into the far open area, the Warriors are following him, his Cavs teammates are all dumbstruck! He then passes to Hill on the corner who fails to release in time! The whole of the Cavs and the Oracle was in awe about what they saw! With the end of regulation saw a bad team temperament in the huddle before extra time and that cost them the match (124-114) and maybe the championship too because they never came so close to winning over the historic team again in the series.
This might have created a havoc in the minds and the dressing room of the Cavaliers for sure hampering their integrity and spirit going into the series, at least the social media was flooded with mockery and criticism but JR Smith chose to given an explanation through his twitter by saying: “I was trying to get enough to bring it out to get a shot off. I knew we were tied, I thought we were going to call timeout. If I thought we were ahead, I’d have held onto the ball and let them foul me.”
Whatever happened, there was a great display of basketball by a legendary team and a legend leading a team, the Cavs-Warriors rivalry now extends to 1-3 in the finals but we aren’t sure if this matchup would remain the same given the fact that LeBron is considering to switch teams this post-season.
Leave us your best memory of this year’s NBA Finals and your favorite moments from the Warriors-Cavs finals rivalry in the comments below!