Game 5 was the last straw. The Cavaliers couldn't keep up with the younger, more talented Warriors.
In what was deemed the most likely outcome for the series by Las Vegas sportsbooks, the Cavaliers lost Game 5 in Golden State and lost the Finals 4-1. Game five ended with a 129-120 score, with a back-and-forth affair in which the Cavaliers kept clawing in before being pushed away.
In the first quarter, the Cavaliers turned the ball over six times and only attempted three three-pointers. Somehow, they led by four. The second quarter was a slightly different story.
If not for JR Smith, the Cavs would have been dead in the water. His 33-foot three-pointer in the final seconds of the first half pulled the Warriors lead back to 11 after they led by as many as 17 in the second half. It was ugly. The Cavs, after shooting incredibly well in the first quarter, began turning the ball over and missing shots. The result was a 25 point turnaround, putting the Warriors way ahead.
Just like game four, there were fouls. The first half took what felt like three hours and all we got out of it was a predictable scoreline of Golden State 71, Cleveland 60.
The second half was a little different. There was just more Kevin Durant. The Cavs battled back on countless occasions. They pulled the lead from double-digits back to single digits, then Kevin Durant would make a shot. The Cavs inexplicably would pull it back to three points, then Kevin Durant would make a shot. The Cavs got it inside of 10 in the fourth, and Kevin Durant made a shot.
Durant was unstoppable. Where Kyrie and LeBron would run into double-teams and swarming team defense, Durant would be single-covered and drain everything. Threes, layups, post-ups - it didn't matter. He missed a jumper in the final five minutes and everyone seemed confused as he hadn't done that for seemingly two weeks.
The Cavs resisted the urge to go away, and LeBron James was the driving force behind that. James pulled off multiple insane drives to the basket in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 straight Cavs points before JR Smith hit an obscene and-1 on a three to bring the deficit back to 10.
It wasn't enough.
The Warriors bench was huge. The Cavs bench was tiny. Kevin Love plus the Cavs bench combined for two (2) points in the first half. Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, and Richard Jefferson combined to go 2-9 from the field with four turnovers and 11 fouls in a combined 51 minutes. Andre Iguodala scored 20 in the game by himself.
Golden State - with a roster that NBA 2K17 probably wouldn't have let you assemble before it became real - were just too much. LeBron's drives to the basket down the stretch allowed him to end with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists (plus 2 steals and a block) on 19/30 from the field. He finished the series averaging a triple-double, which has never been done in NBA history. He shot 54% from the floor and 38.5% from deep in the Finals against one of the best defensive teams the league has ever seen.
JR Smith was a huge factor in keeping it close, ending the game with 25 points on 9-11 shooting (his first missed three came with about 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter). Kyrie Irving's 26 helped along the way, but there's some concern that he has a lingering knee issue that acted up during game five. It will be interesting to see what comes next for him. Love ended the game with just 6 points and 10 rebounds on 2-8 shooting.
There's a lot to think about for the Cavaliers, but at this point, the takeaway is simply that they were outgunned by an outrageously talented team. What else can you say? Golden State was better.
We find out next week who the MVP was - maybe the Cavs can add him?