Forums » News and Announcements

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers

    • 48 posts
    August 10, 2018 8:20 am IST
    There were still a few seconds left on the clock when the Golden State Warriors stormed off their bench to begin a celebration that wasn’t guaranteed.

    They couldn’t wait any longer.

    They had reached their destination: dynasty.

    Stephen Curry scored 37 points [url=http://www.coloradorockiesteamshop.com/authentic-pat-valaika-jersey]Pat Valaika Colorado Rockies Jersey[/url] , Kevin Durant added a triple-double and another NBA Finals MVP trophy and the Warriors won their second straight title and third in four years Friday night, 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships.

    Love `em or hate `em, there is no denying them.

    ”That’s how you know we’re a great team, is when everybody’s coming after us,” Durant said. ”Whether it’s opponents, whether it’s different coaches panning for us, whether it’s the fans, the media that hate us, it feels good when you’re the team that everybody’s gunning for. It makes us better.”

    No team is better.

    Golden State. Golden standard.

    Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors won their fourth straight finals matchup against James and Cleveland with ease.

    ”Looking at this playoff journey, we knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as last year,” Curry said. ”Then the challenges that faced us. In October we wanted to be back in this moment, and a lot went into it. It’s a great feeling to be back here.”

    It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn’t go well either, and now there’s uncertainty where the superstar will play next.

    James, who said he ”pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand” after injuring himself in frustration following Game 1 [url=http://www.minnesotatwinsteamshop.com/authentic-jake-odorizzi-jersey]Jake Odorizzi Minnesota Twins Jersey[/url] , finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move.

    Following the game, he sat quietly in his corner locker with a towel draped over his head. He arrived at his postgame news conference with a large black brace on his right hand and explained the injury was ”self-inflicted” following an overtime loss in Game 1, which included a reversed official’s call and teammate J.R. Smith dribbling out the clock to end regulation.

    ”I had emotions of you just don’t get an opportunity like this on the road versus Golden State to be able to get a Game 1, and I let the emotions get the best of me,” James said. ”Pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand, so that’s what it is.”

    Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they’re the game’s gold standard.

    And they may stay that way.

    Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a 3-pointer.

    Then the league’s best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out ”War-eee-orrss” chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their 3-point barrages.

    By the start of the fourth, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant for the second year in a row.

    And again, it was Durant, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists – more satisfaction and validation for a player who couldn’t beat the Warriors so he joined them.

    After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the West finals [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-brian-o_neill-jersey]http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-brian-o_neill-jersey[/url] , the Warriors pushed aside James and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span.

    Only Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, the ”Showtime” Lakers and the Los Angeles squad led by Kobe and Shaq, and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls have been as dominant in such a short period of time.

    The Dub Dynasty.

    The path to this title was more precarious than the first two for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who overcame injuries, expectations, a built-to-dethrone-them Rockets team and the brilliance of James, who may have played his final game in Cleveland.

    The 33-year-old, who came back to the Cavs and ended the city’s 52-year championship drought in 2016, is expected to opt out of his $35.6 million contract and become a free agent.

    ”I have no idea at this point,” he said when asked if he played his final game for the Cavs. ”The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.”

    James averaged 34 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in the series, but as has been the case in the past [url=http://www.anaheimducksteamshop.com/authentic-isac-lundestrom-jersey]Isac Lundestrom Ducks Jersey[/url] , he didn’t have enough help.

    Another Summer of LeBron is officially underway and there are already teams stretching from Philadelphia to Los Angeles hoping to land the three-time champion, who may have to go elsewhere to put together a cast strong enough – and as James made clear this week, smart enough – to bring down the Warriors.

    Right now, Golden State is on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer.

    ”We’ve got a lot o Masai Ujiri believes Dwane Casey deserves to be recognized as the best coach in the NBA, but the Toronto president doesn’t think Casey should be leading the Raptors.

    So the Raptors fired Casey, praising him on his way out the door.

    Hours after the Raptors announced they were parting ways with Casey on Friday – days after the team was swept in the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight season – Ujiri said he doesn’t think he will ever work with a better person.

    ”Nothing in particular that coach Casey did wrong, but I think it was time for this to happen,” he said.

    Casey led the Raptors to a franchise-record 59 wins this season as Toronto earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time. He posted a 320-238 record in seven seasons and is the franchise’s winningest coach.

    ”I hope coach Casey gets coach of the year, because he deserves it,” Ujiri said. ”I saw everything he did here. I saw the job he did this year. He deserves it.”

    But that wasn’t enough for Casey to keep his job.

    James and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said it was disappointing to hear that Casey had been fired, especially after the year the Raptors had.

    ”Probably within the last five years, I bet they’ve improved in winning percentage every single year,” James said. ”But I guess their front office wants playoff success. That’s what it boils down to.”

    On Tuesday [url=http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-thomas-rawls-jersey]http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-thomas-rawls-jersey[/url] , Casey was named coach of the year by the National Basketball Coaches Association, an award voted on by NBA head coaches. A media panel voted separately for the NBA’s coach of the year award, which will be announced June 25.

    Under Casey, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons. But Toronto couldn’t get past Cleveland, losing to LeBron James and the Cavs in each of the past three playoffs.

    Ujiri said he spent ”countless hours” evaluating the team in the days following this year’s defeat before deciding to fire Casey. It was the first time he’d had to fire a coach in more than a decade as an NBA executive.

    ”It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life,” Ujiri said. ”In terms of collaboration, I don’t think I’ll work with a better person. Maybe my dad. This guy is phenomenal. A listener, a learner, a performer and a real person.”

    Ujiri had little to say about who his next head coach might be, but said he would be ”open” to considering a wide range of potential candidates.

    ”We’ll start that process right after I finish here,” Ujiri said. ”We’ll look everywhere. I’m not ruling out anything. We’ll do a thorough job.”

    Ujiri denied reports that Casey had precipitated his firing by seeking a contract extension. Casey had one year remaining on a three-year, $18 million dollar extension he received in June, 2016.

    Toronto’s assistant coaches remain in their roles, Ujiri said.

    ”All of them are with us for now,” Ujiri said. ”Obviously some of them will get interviews. We’re going to go through that.”

    After Toronto’s playoff exit last spring, Ujiri demanded a ”culture reset [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jalyn-holmes-jersey]http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jalyn-holmes-jersey[/url] ,” leading a greater emphasis on ball movement, depth, and 3-point shooting. On Friday, Ujiri said he wants his new coach to continue that style moving forward.

    ”I hope we can because you try to get those kind of players to fit that mode,” Ujiri said. ”Hopefully there’s a smooth transition but a new coach is going to have his style, he’s going to have his voice.”

    Earlier this week, as they cleaned out their lockers, All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan spoke positively about Casey.

    DeRozan credited Casey with all of his success while Lowry called Casey ”one of the best coaches out there.”

    Still, Lowry was dejected by the team’s playoff performance, calling it a ”wasted year” after a third straight elimination at the hands of James and the Cavs.

    ”We felt like we could possibly make the NBA Finals,” Lowry said. ”That was our goal.”

    On Wednesday, Casey insisted ”the gap is closing” between the Raptors and Cavaliers.

    ”A lot of folks have run up against Cleveland in the last few years and had the same challenge and it went down the same way,” he said. ”That’s the mountain this organization has to climb.”



    AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.



    .

(200 symbols max)

(256 symbols max)