The 2018 NBA Finals, Told Through 7 Moments
From LeBron’s Cavs and Calves to monster games by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, from Kendrick Perkins’ cameo to J.R. Smith’s infamous brainfart, these are the moments we’ll remember.
The Warriors and Cavaliers met for the fourth year in a row, and while the series ended in a not-so-surprising sweep, at least we got some moments that will go down in NBA lore. These are those moments.
The Cleveland Calves
At one time or another during this year’s playoffs, you may have heard that LeBron gifted each of his teammates a set of very expensive tailored suits, in hopes of encouraging solidarity and team unity. Before Game 1 of the Finals, however, LeBron changed things up a bit, going with a pair of suit shorts that NBA Twitter had a field day with.
The J.R. Smith Blunder
Usually, when we refer to a basketball game as the “[Player name] game”, it’s because that particular player delivered a game-defining performance, whether it be a game-clinching barrage of 3-pointers by Klay Thompson or a herculean 50-point game by LeBron James. If the latter had happened, which it did in Game 1, we would probably refer back to this game as “the LeBron game”, but this game will forever be “the J.R. Smith game”, because he defined the game, in a way that did not work well for the Cavaliers.
By now, you know what happened. There’s an argument to be made that J.R. would not have been in that position had George Hill, who’s been half the player he was last season, made both free throws, or that both things would not have mattered had Kevin Love not fouled Stephen Curry the play before, giving him an and-1, or that none of those things would’ve mattered had the highly controversial charge/blocking foul gone Cleveland’s way.
But this is J.R. Smith, and unfortunately for him, he will not get the benefit of the doubt in these situations, simply because he’s J.R. Smith and people do not have a hard time believing he would be at the center of such a blunder. In a series that also featured Shaqtin’ A Fool legends Nick Young and Javale McGee, J.R. Smith was the first to strike, costing his team a potential theft of Game 1, and topping off what was already a very poor season overall for him.
A Cameo By Kendrick “Old Man” Perkins
Here’s a fun fact for you: this is the fifth NBA Finals for Kendrick Perkins. Granted, he’s been on the court for less than half of those games. Nonetheless, Kendrick Perkins is in his fifth NBA Finals, and he had himself a moment when a backpedaling Stephen Curry backed into his feet, while he was sitting on the bench in a suit. The two of them then exchanged a few words, and after the game, Perk reflected on the encounter:
“I don’t know why people keep wanting to pick battles this way. Might want to choose that [expletive] wisely, man, [rather] than [bleeping] with me. I don’t think I’m the problem that they want, might want to pick another battle.”
Following this exchange in the 3rd quarter of Game 2, Stephen Curry lit up the Cavaliers in the 4th, making 5 3-pointers in the quarter. (See below.)
(Another fun fact: If you reverse Google Image search the above photo, the result you get from Google is “Audience.”)
Stephen Curry: Raining 3’s and Setting Records
Stephen Curry now holds the record for most 3-pointers made in an NBA Finals game, with nine. It was a matter of time before the best shooter the NBA has ever seen claimed that record, and he did it with classic Stephen Curry flare. There were pull-ups in transition, daggers from way beyond the 3-point line, a 4-point play off of Kevin Love, and a prayer of a shot — it was really more of a throw — also over Kevin Love.
One of the narratives coming into this year’s NBA Finals was that even though it’s indisputable that Stephen Curry is the engine of the Golden State Warriors’ offense, he has yet to add a Finals MVP trophy to his accolades, which is only peculiar because he has two regular season MVP’s already. This game was the game where it seemed like the Finals MVP was his to lose. He would go on to not win the award, again, but this game will still be remembered as his signature playoff game. Until he inevitably does it again.
The LeBron Self Alley-Oop
The joke on Twitter when this happened early in Game 3 was that LeBron’s teammates are so useless that LeBron had resorted to passing to himself. It was fun, but it’s not the most amazing thing ever, like NBA Twitter was making it out to be. Kobe has done it enough times to warrant a YouTube compilation. Don’t get me wrong, it was memorable, just probably more so because of the jokes that it birthed than the actual play itself, but it’s always fun watching veteran LeBron pull off new tricks.
The Durant Dagger
The battle between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant for the Finals MVP trophy was more competitive than the battle between the Warriors and Cavaliers for the title. After two games, Steph appeared to be the favorite to win the trophy, but then he followed up his historical performance with a dud in Game 3, going 1/10 from downtown and 3/16 overall, while Kevin Durant dropped a 43-point double-double, carrying the Warriors offense, making big shot after big shot, including the dagger with under a minute left, from almost the exact same spot where he dropped the dagger in last year’s Game 3.
Klay Thompson Googles Himself
You might have missed this one if you didn’t stick around for the post-game press conference. While Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were up at the podium together and about to cede the podium to Kevin Durant, Klay got Draymond’s attention and whispered something to him while looking at his phone. Draymond then let everyone know that Klay just googled himself and found out that, already, according to the internet, he was a three-time NBA champion. Klay was pumped. That’s how you know it’s real.