Warriors-Cavaliers is almost certainly a closed book now, an episodic drama that has finally reached end-of-show status. There is nothing left to tell, no secrets left to unearth. The braids have been undone, and this part of NBA history is now, well, history.
That is, unless LeBron James either falls back in love with owner Dan Gilbert or can be convinced (or convince himself) that the job he is going to is worse than the job he wants to leave.
With that as the apocalyptic backdrop, we now present The All-22 View, the list of the 22 Finals games between these two teams in rough order of impact.
SERIES ONE, GAME SIX, WARRIORS, 105-97
The Warriors’ first clincher in 40 years, a changing of the guard led by Stephen Curry’s 25, Andre Iguodala’s 25 and Draymond Green’s first triple-double. Also LeBron James’ final concession to the weariness of overuse (35-of-89 in the final three games, 6-of-22 from three on an average of 44 minutes per game).
SERIES ONE, GAME FOUR: WARRIORS, 103-82
The game in which Iguodala was inserted into the starting lineup to clamp down on James, break Cleveland’s momentum, and he did it so well (see above) that he won Finals MVP and became a national name and jump-started the Warrior Decade.
SERIES TWO, GAME FOUR: WARRIORS, 108-97
James baited Green into the suspension avoided in the Western Conference Finals when his foot took over his brain and found Stephen Adams’ goolies. It helped reverse a series clearly in Golden State’s favor and made “Blown 3-1 Lead” a meme.
SERIES TWO, GAME SEVEN: CAVALIDERS, 93-89
The Cavaliers break up the Warrior dynasty before it starts because Kyrie Irving hits the only shot by either team in the last 4:48, and because both Curry and Klay Thompson shoot dreadfully throughout the game. This provides the Warriors daily motivation for the Hamptons vacation that changed basketball.
SERIES FOUR, GAME FOUR: WARRIORS, 108-85
The most ruthless game against a good team the Warriors have ever played. Curry went for 37, Durant had a triple-double, JaVale McGee was glorious, but most of all they finished LeBron James’ time in Cleveland with the most comprehensive beating in all areas. It was an unfair fight from the anthem on.
SERIES THREE, GAME FIVE: WARRIORS, 129-120
The second clinch, and the night Kevin Durant outgunned James and cemented the idea in the old and narrow-minded that free agency comes with an asterisk that punishes players for entering into a contract with someone who wants them. James has the best numbers (41/13/8) but the Warriors have the most best numbers (Durant 39/6/5, Curry 34/6/10, Green 10/12/5, Iguodala 20/4/3).
SERIES TWO, GAME FIVE: CAVALIERS, 112-97
The Green suspension, when added to the injury to Andrew Bogut that left the Warriors too small and insufficiently bulky to prevent a 15-point Cleveland win in Oakland, and worse to come.
SERIES ONE, GAME TWO: CAVALIERS, 95-93
Curry’s worst night in any Finals (5-for-23, 2-for-15 from three), while James evened the series with a 39/16/11 triple-double in a 95-93 win.
SERIES FOUR, GAME ONE: WARRIORS, 124-114
J.R. Smith overcame James’ 51-point night with the kind of thing J.R. Smith makes famous, and the overtime rout by Goplden State guaranteed the first series of the modern era to be clinched in Game 1.
SERIES FOUR, GAME THREE: WARRIORS, 110-92
Durant’s 43 points and unadulterated brashness provide more than sufficient cover for brutal shooting nights from Curry and Thompson, and becomes the sure-thing MVP...until Game 4, when he still ended up MVP, but by a narrower margin.
SERIES THREE, GAME FOUR: CAVALIERS, 137-116
The Warriors lose their chance to out-Moses Malone and go fo’-fo’-fo’-fo’. In fairness, Irving’s 40 and James’ 31 had something to do with it, too.
SERIES ONE, GAME ONE: WARRIORS, 108-100
James had 41, but the Warriors showed the moment was not too big for them. A confidence-booster for a first-timer that allowed them to overcome Cleveland’s next two wins despite the loss of Kyrie Irving.
SERIES THREE, GAME ONE: WARRIORS, 113-91
Durant put down an initial deposit on the best years of his career by going 38/9/8 in a lopsided opener.
SERIES FOUR, GAME TWO: WARRIORS, 122-103
Hot off the mess that was Game 1, Curry broke the playoff record for threes, including five in the fourth, showing a fresh glimpse of why he is James’ truest rival for the nation’s heart attention.
SERIES TWO, GAME SIX: CAVALIERS, 115-101
James had 41 despite the return of Green, and forced the Warriors to contemplate their mortality in a series they surely had mentally celebrated.
SERIES THREE, GAME TWO: WARRIORS, 132-113
James doesn’t even play 40 minutes (one of three times that occurred in these games) as Durant had the second of his five consecutive 30-point games.
SERIES ONE, GAME FIVE: WARRIORS, 104-91
Curry’s 37 turns the series back in Golden State’s favor enough that nobody expects Cleveland to rally, and it didn’t. James’ 40 was marked by exhaustion as the toll of having no Irving finally weighed him down for good.
SERIES THREE, GAME THREE: WARRIORS, 118-113
The closest game of the series, won only because Durant (31/9/4) was joined by Thompson’s 30 and Curry’s 26 to trump James and Irving combining for 77.
SERIES ONE, GAME THREE: CAVALIERS, 96-91
James goes for 40, 12 and 8 without Irving, but the spectre of the Iggy Colossus awaits.
SERIES TWO, GAME THREE: CAVALIERS, 120-90
Cleveland responds to losses in the first two games by smashing the Warriors by the widest margin in the rivalry. Seems innocuous now, but at the time it gave the Cavs a life they seized upon later in the series.
SERIES TWO, GAME TWO: WARRIORS, 110-77
The least explicable game of the 22, because of what came afterward. It may have lulled the Warriors into a false sense of superiority, but they were young, and had much to learn, mostly at the back of LeBron’s hand.
SERIES TWO, GAME ONE: WARRIORS, 104-89
Given what happened next in the series and in the rivalry, the least memorable of all. I mean, a 15-point Warrior win seemed so normal at this point. Little did we know.
|Game 1||Warriors 124, Cavs 114 (OT)|
|Game 2||Warriors 122, Cavs 103|
|Game 3||Warriors 110, Cavs 102|
|Game 4||Warriors 108, Cavs 85|