CLEVELAND — It was definitely LeBron James’ last game in a Cavaliers uniform this season. Whether it was his last, period, won’t be known for another month.
One thing is certain, though: It wasn’t the game he and his teammates were looking for.
The Golden State Warriors won their third championship in four years by completing a four-game sweep of the Cavs on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena, dominating all night en route to a resounding 108-85 victory.
James, who fell to 3-6 in the NBA Finals and lost to the Warriors for the third time in four years, is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I have no idea at this point,” James said when asked about his impending decision. “The one thing I’ve always done is consider my family, especially where my boys are at this age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision (to leave Miami in 2014).”
The Warriors, who beat the Cavs in five games a year ago, were clearly the better team in this series. The last time the Finals ended in four games was 2007, when San Antonio swept Cleveland and James, who was in his first stint with the Cavs.
Making the Cavs’ steep odds even steeper was the fact James became angry after some highly questionable calls led to an overtime loss in Game 1 and he punched a whiteboard in anger afterward.
“I let the emotions get the best of me and pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand,” he said while wearing a black brace over his right wrist during his postgame interview.
On a night when the entire fourth quarter was basically garbage time — the Warriors were up 25 early in the period — James exited to a standing ovation and raucous chants of “MVP” with 4:03 to play and the Cavs down 102-77.
“I came back because I felt I had some unfinished business,” James said of his decision to return to Cleveland. “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and the fashion we had is something I’ll always remember.”
The four-time league MVP finished with 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, seven rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers. He had just seven points on 1-for-3 shooting in the second half, when he seemed resigned to the fact the Cavs couldn’t rally from an early 15-point deficit in the third period.
“He’s a bad boy,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “Love having him on our team. He competes until the end.
“I hope he stays. We all know that. After a game like that, I’m not in any position to talk about that. I just appreciate what he’s done for us this season.”
Kevin Love had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Cavs and J.R. Smith had 10 points (none in the second half), while point guard George Hill had a miserable night, finishing with three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
Kyle Korver’s awful Finals continued, as he went 0-for-6 from the field and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers in Game 4 to finish the series with three points on 1-for-16 shooting (1-for-11 on 3-pointers).
All that left James pretty much on his own, and on this night he didn’t play to his phenomenal but customary level. Still, he averaged 34.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists while playing 44.7 minutes a game in the Finals.
“Maybe the greatest testament to LeBron is five years ago he was one of the top five players of all time,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “From five years ago to now, it seems like he is 10 times better because he’s added so much skill.”
Other changes could be coming to the Cavs — they may look to move Love and they certainly would like to deal Smith — but Lue, who left the team for a period of the regular season due to health reasons, has a contract and would like to return.
“I had some tough times, also,” he said after detailing all the changes the Cavs went through in 2017-18. “I probably could have folded myself, but I wasn’t going to do that.”
Stephen Curry, who was 3-for-16 from the field and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers in Game 3, scored 37 points and made 7 of 15 from deep while adding six rebounds and four assists for the Warriors, while repeat Finals MVP Kevin Durant posted a triple-double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Andre Iguodala had 11 points, Klay Thompson scored all 10 of his in the second half and Draymond Green added nine points and nine assists.
“Talent wins in this league,” Kerr said. “We’re a very talented team.”
Already down nine at halftime, the Cavs once again came out flat in the third period, with Golden State scoring six straight points to go up 67-52. A Thompson 3-pointer made it 75-58 midway through the period, a pair of Durant free throws made it 81-63 at 3:27 and another Thompson three made it 84-65 at 2:11.
By the time the quarter was over, the Warriors had outscored the Cavs 25-13 and taken a commanding 86-65 lead. James missed his only two shots from the field in the period while making four free throws.
Down nine after the first period, the Cavs temporarily woke up defensively and started the second quarter on a 14-4 run, taking their first lead, 39-38, on a James dunk with 7:12 left in the half. The Cavs couldn’t sustain their effort, however, and Golden State went up 61-52 at intermission when Curry buried a 3-pointer with five seconds to play.
Four Warriors combined for six 3-pointers (in 10 attempts) and Curry had 12 points as Golden State took a 34-25 lead after the first period, an early sign a stressful Cavs season was about to come to an end.
“It’s never a success in the postseason when you lose,” James said. “Not for me.”
Warriors 108, Cavs 85
GOLDEN STATE (108): Durant 7-17 6-6 20, D.Green 4-8 0-0 9, McGee 3-4 0-0 6, Curry 12-27 6-6 37, K.Thompson 4-10 0-0 10, Bell 2-3 0-0 4, West 1-1 0-0 2, Looney 1-2 0-0 2, Pachulia 0-1 2-2 2, Livingston 0-1 2-2 2, Iguodala 4-8 0-0 11, McCaw 0-0 0-0 0, Young 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 39-86 16-16 108.
CLEVELAND (85): James 7-13 9-11 23, Love 4-13 3-4 13, T.Thompson 3-5 0-0 6, Hill 1-7 0-2 3, Smith 3-8 1-2 10, J.Green 2-8 0-0 5, Osman 1-3 0-0 2, Nance Jr. 3-7 1-2 7, Zizic 2-2 0-0 4, Calderon 0-1 0-0 0, Hood 4-14 1-1 10, Korver 0-6 2-3 2. Totals 30-87 17-25 85.
Golden State 34 27 25 22 — 108
Cleveland 25 27 13 20 — 85
3-Point Goals—Golden State 14-38 (Curry 7-15, Iguodala 3-6, K.Thompson 2-5, Young 1-4, D.Green 1-5, Durant 0-3), Cleveland 8-27 (Smith 3-5, Love 2-5, Hood 1-3, J.Green 1-3, Hill 1-4, James 0-1, Calderon 0-1, Korver 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Golden State 44 (Durant 12), Cleveland 44 (Love 9). Assists—Golden State 25 (Durant 10), Cleveland 21 (James 8). Total Fouls—Golden State 24, Cleveland 22. Technicals—Golden State coach Warriors (Defensive three second), Durant, Smith.
Percentages: FG .453, FT 1.000.
Team Rebounds: 12.
Team Turnovers: 8 (11 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 13 (Curry 3, D.Green 3, Durant 3, Iguodala 2, Bell, McGee).
Turnovers: 8 (Curry 2, Durant 2, K.Thompson 2, D.Green, Pachulia).
Steals: 7 (Curry 3, Iguodala 2, D.Green, Durant).
Percentages: FG .345, FT .680.
Team Rebounds: 12.
Team Turnovers: 11 (10 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 5 (Hood, J.Green, James, Nance Jr., T.Thompson).
Turnovers: 11 (James 6, Hood 2, Hill, Korver, Love).
Steals: 5 (Hood 2, Calderon, Love, Nance Jr.).
A—20,562 (20,562). T—2:19. Officials—Scott Foster, Jason Phillips, James Capers
- LeBron James has many options -- but none really clear-cut
- Oakland ready to again celebrate NBA champion Warriors
- Commentary: LeBron's punch after Game 1 left Cavaliers without fighting chance
- Cavaliers: Season ends, drama begins as NBA awaits LeBron James' next decision
- Commentary: Game 1 meltdown haunted Cavaliers until the swift end of NBA Finals
- NBA Finals: LeBron James needed help from teammates in Game 4, and it never showed up
- Jim Ingraham: Cavs can't let Game 1 loss keep them down
- Indians notes: With a problematic calf injury behind him, Lonnie Chisenhall looking to produce
- Mission impossible? LeBron James knows Cavaliers face a daunting task down 3-0 to a historically talented and smart Warriors team
- Cavs guard Rodney Hood makes most of his return to rotation
- NBA Finals: Warriors beat Cavs 110-102 to take 3-0 lead
- Jim Ingraham: Cavaliers have no answer for Kevin Durant
- On call: Cavs turning to seldom-used Hood against Warriors
- LeBron James, Warriors on same side on this one: Agree they'd turn down White House invitation
- NBA Finals: LeBron James conceding nothing despite 0-2 deficit vs. Warriors
- Cavaliers, Warriors say they're not going to White House
- NBA Finals: Cavaliers in 2-0 hole after Warriors find groove offensively, win 122-103
- LeBron James doesn't want Cavaliers to get too comfortable just because they're back home
- NBA Finals JR Smith disappoints again for Cavaliers, this time as a nonfactor in Game 2 loss
- NBA Finals Notes: Warriors lineup change in Game 2 pays off as JaVale McGee scores 12 points and doesn't miss
- NBA Finals: LeBron James scores 51 points but crazy finish costs Cavs, who fall to Warriors in overtime
- NBA Finals: League defends controversial block/charge call reversal that was turning point in Cavaliers' Game 1 loss
- Cavaliers Notes: J.R. Smith's late decision in Game 1 still has everyone shaking and scratching their heads
- NBA Finals: Warriors expect Cavaliers to bounce back after discouraging loss in Game 1
- NBA Finals: Ending spoils LeBron James' huge night