At this point, Kevin Durant’s legacy is sealed after helping guide Golden State to a four-game sweep of Cleveland in the NBA Finals.
Durant, a small forward who played one season at the University of Texas, was named Finals Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons, and will go down as one of the 10 greatest players ever.
Durant’s 20 points with a game-best 12 rebounds and a game-high 10 assists was too much as the Warriors rolled past the Cavaliers 108-85 in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena last Friday as they captured consecutive championships and three of four.
“That’s how you know we’re a great team is when everybody’s coming after us,’’ said Durant, who was picked No. 2 in the 2007 draft. “Whether it’s opponents, whether it’s different coaches planning for us, whether it’s the fans, the media that hate us, it feels good when you’re the team that everybody’s gunning for. It makes us better.’’
At 6-foot-10, Durant, a nine-time All-Star and a four-time scoring king, can shoot over shorter defenders and is equally adept at 27 feet as 15 feet.
The Warriors (39 of 86 for 45.3 percent) glided in front 10-3 with 9:23 left on a layup from point guard Stephen Curry (game-best 37 points with six boards and four assists).
Golden State’s margin expanded to 24-13 with 5:07 showing on Durant’s slam dunk.
The Warriors bolted ahead 34-25 heading into the second frame behind Curry’s 12 points and Durant’s eight.
Cleveland (34.5 percent on 30 of 87) outscored Golden State 14-4 and powered in front 39-38 on a jam from small forward LeBron James (team-best 23 points with a team-high eight assists and seven caroms) as 6:59 remained before the half.
The Warriors led 61-52 at the break as Curry drilled a three-pointer and had 20 points while Durant tossed in 12.
Golden State surged ahead 86-65 entering the fourth period as shooting guard Klay Thompson (six rebounds) scored all of his 10 points in the frame.
On Wednesday, the Warriors eased past the host Cavaliers 110-102 in Game 3 as Durant dropped in a playoff personal-best and game-high 43 points with a co-game-high 13 caroms and seven assists.
Durant’s trey from 30 feet with 49.8 seconds left on the clock made it 106-100.
Golden State (51.9 percent on 42 of 81) led 83-81 entering the fourth period as Durant delivered 34 points.
At this juncture, James had 21 points and finished with a team-best 33 points and a game-high 11 assists along with 10 boards for Cleveland (40 of 92 for 43.5 percent).
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.