Now, everybody can sit back for a few months and envision the possibility of another scintillating NBA Finals between Cleveland and Golden State.
BOX SCORE: WARRIORS 126, CAVALIERS 91
LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry for the third straight time, complete with the hard-nosed play of Draymond Green, dazzling dunks from Kevin Durant and sharp shooting from Kyrie Irving.
This regular-season round went to the Warriors, who dominated from the start on Monday -- and it wasn't even close. The defending champs were dismantled on the very floor where they captured the franchise's first title last June.
Curry and his superstar supporting cast certainly looked ready to trade more postseason blows with Cleveland. The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers on the way to 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the Cavaliers.
"This is high-quality basketball, at its highest level," Curry said. "These are the kinds of atmospheres that you live for. Whether you win or lose, regular season, playoffs, whatever, that you can play in that kind of environment that's always fun."
Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He also equaled his career best with five blocks -- and had another confrontation with King James in the process.
James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds. But he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship again turned testy.
"I don't think it's a rivalry," James reiterated. "It's two great teams that have aspirations. I don't believe I've ever had a rivalry in the NBA."
Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas.
The Warriors squandered a 14-point lead that day in a loss that fueled them going into Monday. They relinquished a 3-1 advantage in the Finals last year, a failure that motivates them to return to the big stage. And the teams' latest holiday game marked the Cavs' first trip back to Oracle Arena since capturing the title here seven months ago.
Irving -- who hit game-winners against Golden State in the past two matchups, including the championship clincher -- scored 17 points on an uncharacteristic day for the Cavs when they committed 15 turnovers to 11 assists.
"They did what they were supposed to do," Irving said. "Right from the start they jumped on us and never looked back."
Cleveland shot just 35.2 percent (31 for 88) overall. Beyond embarrassed, Cavs players headed for the tunnel before the final buzzer even sounded.
The latest altercation between Green and James came with 6:55 left in the first half. Golden State led 52-35 when James collided with Green near midcourt, resulting in a flagrant 1 foul on Golden State's emotional All-Star. Green's arm extended across the upper body of James, who went down hard and lay on the court. Green reacted by appearing to mock James for flopping.
After a long replay review, a double technical was called on Green and Richard Jefferson.
After Curry's pull-up 3 moments before halftime sent his team into the break with a 78-49 lead, the star guard did what looked like a little celebratory breakdancing move on his behind at the sideline.
You bet this one felt like more than just any game to the Warriors, looking to regain some swagger in this rivalry after Cleveland had won the past four meetings, including last year's NBA Finals.
"To me it was because they beat us four straight times and that's never fun when a team has your number for four games, so it felt good to redeem ourselves," Thompson said.
Durant, new to the rivalry this season, appeared downright possessed. KD's driving, emphatic tomahawk jam 1:43 before halftime sent Oracle Arena's sellout crowd into a frenzy.
Zaza Pachulia pulled down 13 rebounds as Golden State had a 58-35 edge on the boards. Andre Iguodala came off the bench to make all five of his field goal attempts for a season-high 14 points, and Shaun Livingston added 13.
With this one in the books, these teams are done with each other -- for the time being.
"It's intense enough for two matchups," Green said. "If you want to play each other again, try to get to the NBA Finals. The fact you only play twice a year makes it even more exciting because you only have two cracks at it."
Cavaliers: Cleveland, second in the NBA in 3-pointers (496) coming in and third in 3-point percentage (.385), shot 2 for 12 from behind the arc in the first quarter and had just one assist in the period. The Cavs were 9 of 34 from long range overall. ... Kyle Korver played in his 1,000th career game.
Warriors: Curry hit a 3 in his 100th straight home game, the second-longest such streak in NBA history behind Korver's 132. ... Golden State is 7-0 at home vs. the Eastern Conference and 13-1 overall, with that lone loss to the Cavs. ... Iguodala had his career-best streak of five straight games without a turnover snapped with one miscue, while dishing out five more assists for 22 during this span. ... MC Hammer was in the house.
Cavaliers: Wrapped up a six-game road trip and will host Phoenix on Thursday.
Warriors: Host Oklahoma City on Thursday in the final game of a 10-game stretch without a plane ride, with the lone road game at Sacramento on Jan. 8. Durant beat his old Thunder team already at Oracle, 122-96 on Nov. 3.
|President Barack Obama holds a jersey when he welcomed in the Golden State Warriors after their championship. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)|
Cavaliers vs. Warriors 2017 live updates: Relive Golden State’s 126-91 MLK Day beatdown
Below are a bunch of highlights and updates throughout the game, in reverse chronological order. Scroll down for a Twitter list.
Warriors 126, Cavaliers 91 (Final): So much for a competitive rematch. After blowing a 14-point lead in losing on Christmas (not to mention a 3-1 lead you may have heard about last June), the Warriors jumped on the Cavaliers early and never let up in a blowout victory. Golden State played like a team desperate for a win, while the Cavaliers looked like a club on the end of a long West coast road trip.
There were many standouts, but Draymond Green deserves the first mention. He only took six shots and still controlled the game with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, and five blocks. The early flagrant foul he committed on LeBron James seemed to wake Green up.
Stephen Curry scored 20 and notched 11 assists, clearing himself from Cleveland’s tight defensive clutches. Klay Thompson had 24, while Kevin Durant added 21. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving shot a combined 12-37 from the field.
These teams will not play again this regular season, but most expect a third straight Finals rematch in June. For the Warriors, this victory was necessary to regain momentum. For the Cavaliers, this loss will be a mere footnote in the NBA’s best rivalry.
Warriors 95, Cavaliers 71 (End 3rd): The Warriors let their foot off the gas, surrendering a 13-0 run that cut a 36-point lead to 23. The Warriors did blow a 24-point lead to Memphis earlier this year, but this one still feels pretty safe.
Warriors 93, Cavaliers 58 (4:36 left): As if the Cavaliers didn’t need more problems, LeBron James suddenly can’t score on Kevin Durant.
Durant also forced a James travel on a fast break and swatted a Tristan Thompson layup. James is now 4-15 from the field, a far cry from his dominating ways in the 2016 NBA Finals.
With the game already out of hand, better safe than sorry.
Warriors 78, Cavaliers 49 (Halftime): OK, Warriors. We see you. We get it.
Needing to respond after four straight losses to Cleveland, the Warriors have done just that. They ended the half on a 22-7 run punctuated by a thunderous Kevin Durant fast-break dunk ...
With the game already out of hand, better safe than sorry.
The Warriors are shooting 62 percent from the field and have 34 fast-break points. Durant has 19, Curry has 14 and 10 assists, and Draymond Green has eight points, eight rebounds, and four blocks.
Warriors 65, Cavaliers 46 (3:10 left): For a second, it looked like Cleveland was getting the game back to their grind-it-out pace, but that quickly faded. A spry Andre Iguodala has 10 points, including a couple great defensive plays on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry looks just fine.
Curry has just eight points, but he’s tossed in nine assists so far. The Warriors continue to get him more pick-and-roll touches, which has neutralized Cleveland’s defensive strategy.
Warriors 52, Cavaliers 35 (6:55 left): WE HAVE ACTION.
LeBron James raced ahead on a fast break, and guess who met him? Yup, Draymond Green. A little skirmish ensued and Green earned a Flagrant 1 foul. He was none too thrilled with James’ hard fall.
Warriors 48, Cavaliers 26 (9:22 left): This isn’t getting any better for Cleveland. The Warriors are forcing isolations on one end, then getting out and running on the other. The Warriors already have 19 fast-break points in less than 15 minutes. This is quickly turning into a rout.
That’ll make this fan happy.
Warriors 36, Cavaliers 22 (End): The downpour continues. JaVale McGee gave the Warriors life when he checked in for Zaza Pachulia, and the Warriors kept running circles around the Cavaliers’ defense. Steph Curry punctuated the quarter with a trademark pull-up 3 for his eighth point of the quarter, and he could have scored more if he didn’t miss two wide-open looks.
The Warriors have put the ball in his hands more, which was my first suggested antidote to the Cavs’ Steph Rules defense.
Warriors 24, Cavaliers 14 (3:57 left): On one end, the Warriors are finally starting to hit wide-open 3s. On the other, Kyle Korver forgot that LeBron James bestowed the ultra green light on him.
Warriors 9, Cavaliers 4 (7:20 left): This could be even worse for the Cavs. Cleveland opened with some odd defensive matchups and watched as the Warriors raced up the court for tons of open looks. Luckily for Cleveland, the Warriors have started cold, with Stephen Curry missing two wide-open threes and Klay Thompson bricking one.
A Kyrie Irving fadeaway jump shot over Klay Thompson’s outstretched arms completed a 14-point comeback that gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a 109-108 Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors. It added to the sour remnants of the Dubs’ blown 3-1 series lead in last year’s NBA Finals.
Now, the Warriors have a chance at redemption at home, but it won’t be easy. The rematch will take place at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.
Cleveland added one of the league’s premier three-point shooters, Kyle Korver, in a deal that sent just Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and a 2019 first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks. And though the Cavaliers once considered resting Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love for their Warriors’ matchup, the stage is set for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day showdown for the ages.
Cleveland enters its Finals rematch atop the Eastern Conference with a 29-10 record, though the Cavaliers are 2-2 since acquiring Korver and 1-2 in games he’s played in so far.
Golden State is riding sky-high after landing former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant in free agency. The Warriors are a league-best 34-6 and have won eight of their last 10 games.
Durant now leads Golden State in scoring (26.0 points per game), rebounding (8.6) and blocked shots (1.7), while shooting a career-best field goal percentage (.537). But there are palpable issues with the Warriors’ “Death Lineup,” and it’s evident Stephen Curry and his new co-star are still working their way through chemistry class.
Warriors get revenge on Cavaliers; Steph Curry and Tim Bontemps
Sam Amick is joined by Washington Post reporter Tim Bontemps to break down the Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers game.
They talk about how great Stephen Curry was in the game and how good he has been all season.
They talk about LeBron James and Kevin Durant and how they played and have been playing.
They talk about how good the Warriors are if they’re focused, but question their effort sometimes.
They discuss the Draymond Green/LeBron incident and what they think of the play. Then they break down both teams and what they are moving forward.
Later in the show, Sam is joined by Steph Curry to talk about President Barack Obama as his term is ending. They discuss Steph’s relationship with him and what his being president meant to Steph.