The better team won the 2018 NBA Finals, just like we all expected. The Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to repeat as NBA champions.
I’ve organized some of my post-Finals thoughts below, starting with a ridiculous narrative I’m sure we’re going to hear about all summer.
Kevin Durant is not better at basketball than LeBron James.
To his credit, Durant has been lessening the gap between himself and LeBron since signing with Golden State in 2016. This is a reflection of improvements to his all-around game, primarily on the defensive end.
It also helps that he plays with three other All-Stars. But regardless, he’s not close to the leader James is. The two best players in the world might be 1A/1B in terms of skill level, but there’s a reason KD lost 17 of 21 head-to-head matchups with LeBron before he joined forces with the 73-win Finals runner-up.
LeBron had no help in the Finals.
The Cavaliers are a lottery team without him. This postseason, he led Cleveland in scoring, assists, blocks and steals.
Here’s a snapshot of the struggles his supporting cast had against the Warriors: Guard Kyle Korver, who has made the fourth-most threes all time during his 15-year pro career, went 1 for 11 from long range for the series and went scoreless in the final two games. Guard JR Smith’s gaffe at the end of Game 1 has been well documented, and center Tristan Thompson struggled with 6.8 points and just 5.3 rebounds per game.
If the Cavs won Game 1, it would have caused a series-changing domino effect.
Allow me to explain: If Cleveland stole Game 1 in Oakland, it would likely lose Game 2 and split Games 3 and 4 at home. We would have watched Game 5 of a 2-2 series Monday night.
But I guess that only applies if LeBron doesn’t hurt his hand after Game 1.
He injured himself by punching a whiteboard in the locker room after the disappointing loss. His injury negatively affected his play and Cleveland’s chances at an upset.
LeBron will be back.
This has to be the most frustrating end to a season he’s ever had.
He worked so hard to drag the Cavs back to the Finals for the fourth-straight year, only to watch his teammates collapse as he dealt with a serious, self-inflicted injury.
He defied Father Time in his 15th season, but nobody knows where the King will continue his reign from in his 16th.
Andrew Huang is a sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJHuang and contact him at [email protected].