Durant capped his spectacular first season with the Warriors by bringing home that coveted National Basketball Association championship he joined Golden State last July so determined to get, scoring 39 points in a fast-and-furious, Finals-clinching 129-120 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 on Monday night.
The Warriors, who beat Cleveland in the 2015 Finals only to lose to them a year ago after squandering a 3-1 series lead, went a record-setting 16-1 in the playoffs, their only loss coming in Game Four of the best-of-seven championship.
Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala have now won two championships, but this year they had Durant at their side to help bring the Larry O'Brien trophy back to the Bay Area.
LeBron James had 41 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in a losing effort for Cleveland.
Unlike Game 4, when the Cavs exploded for an NBA Finals record 86 points in the first half and led by 16, the Warriors were in control. James' desperation was contagious, and his ability to get to nearly every loose ball (six third-quarter rebounds) helped keep the Cavs close.
The Cavs managed to stave off elimination once in this series with a 137-116 win in Game 4 at home but couldn't pull off another improbable comeback this year. Kevin Durant has 21 points and Steph Curry has 20 for the Warriors, who are two quarters away from their second championship in three years.
For all the lovely basketball that had been played between these two teams in the past two Finals, there was always an asterisk tacked on to the result. And as had been the case in the first three games, it was Durant (21 first half points) and Curry (20 first half points, five assists, four rebounds) leading the way.
"We're champions and we did it on our own floor", he said. They knocked them around physically, and took their physical play in return. The final sequence said it all, as Curry lost his dribble while driving on one end and J.R. Smith buried a left-wing three in transition on the other. For most of five games - sans a big Game 4 win - Cleveland had no answer for everything Golden State threw at them.
James has hit 5 of 6 shots in a torrid start for Cleveland.
Completing a ideal 9-0 run at home during the postseason, the Warriors became the first San Francisco Bay Area team to win a championship at home since the Oakland Athletics won the 1974 World Series.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was asked about his team's needs when told of Kerr's comments. "Nervous is good. Appropriate fear is the Gregg Popovich line".
They practiced it several times as heads turned in Oracle Arena to watch and listen. You need that. And when we come out the beginning of Game 4 and lose shooters and turn the ball over carelessly, we're obviously not ready.