The Splash Bros-era Golden State Warriors are the greatest shooting team in the history of basketball. They have perfected timely long-range buckets, the kind that vacuum up momentum and send opposing franchises into bottomless pits of shame and defeat.
I refer to these shots as Gold-Blooded Daggers. I have taken the time to curate the greatest of these shots, separate them into various categories for your reminiscing, and even add some Gold-Blooded reflections of my own.
Today’s category: “The Shots That Ran LeBron James Out of Cleveland ”!
The Cleveland Cavaliers were an annoying rival, even actually managing to do something no other team has done since Steve Kerr took over as head coach: beat us in the playoffs. That may also be why some of the most memorable shots in Warriors history have come at Cleveland’s expense in the Finals. I would even go so far as to assume that the attrition of these bombs sent LeBron James packing.
Vote on your favorite splash in Cleveland’s eye, and let us know what was going through your mind when these shots went down!
Thizz Face: Curry Cooks Delly, June 15th, 2015
“Was any of them not contested?” LeBron James said. “Falling, step-backs off the dribble. I’m OK with that. We’re OK with that. You tip your hat to the best shooter in the league.”
For much of the 2015 Finals, reigning MVP Stephen Curry didn’t seemed to be as comfortable as he was during his sparkling regular season. Some of that was just a lack of personal rhythm, but many speculated the Cavaliers physical defense was the cause for his off games. Specifically, the anointed “Curry Stopper”, Matthew Dellavedova.
“Delly”, as he was known, grabbed, bumped, scratched, and tripped Curry relentlessly throughout the series. With the refs swallowing their whistles and the series tied at 2-2 heading back to Oracle, the Warriors desperately needed Curry to break loose. On cue, the Golden Child unleashed a signature 37 point performance, including a sensational fourth quarter moment that lives on in Warriors lore.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors clung to a 93-86 lead with just under three minutes remaining. Keeping the Cavaliers bottled up was a frustrating exercise, and the hopeful young Dubs turned to Curry to seal the deal.
He charged himself up with a vicious dribbling exhibition on Delly’s ankles. Curry’s tricky moves yanked the young Australian’s body violently in several directions, toying with the defender, exposing his helplessness. Delly lurched around like a drunk man, knee deep in Mississippi mud, chasing a dancing butterfly. Suddenly, Curry stepped back into his beautiful shooting motion, and launched a disrespectful three-point bomb to effectively break the Cavs will.
As Curry confidently jogged back on defense, he turned to the delirious Oakland crowd and broke out into a “Thizz Face”, an expressive sneer popularized by Vallejo rapper Mac Dre during the Bay Area’s “Hyphy Movement”. This gangsta homage to the Warriors rabid, loyal Bay Area fan base drove home the fact that the Cavaliers weren’t gonna stop the Dubs. The Warriors would win the game, 104-91, go on to close the series out the next game, and give the Bay their first basketball championship in 40 years.
Not This Guy: KD Buries Cleveland Alive, June 8th, 2017
“All I was looking at was the bottom of the net,” Durant said. “I saw he (James) was playing his heels behind the 3-point line. I’ve been working on that shot my whole life. To see that go in, that was liberating, man.”
The Warriors headed into a ferocious NBA Finals Game 3 matchup in Northeast Ohio, well aware they had failed miserably in their previous two attempts to steal Game 3’s in Cleveland. The Dubs were on a mission to silence their demons and reclaim the title they had fumbled away to LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Usher. Part of that process including liberating Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder and assimilating him into the Death Squad.
Clutching to a 2-0 lead in the 2017 Finals, the Warriors suffered a furious assault from the reigning champion Cavaliers in G3. The Cavaliers fans, soaring on the high of their “3-1” title, roared derision on the Warriors all night long. The Cavs led by six with three minutes left, before Durant decided enough was enough. The “Slim Reaper” took over down the stretch, scoring 14 of his team high 31 points in the fourth quarter. Cavs defenders were helpless as he went through, around, and over them at will, showcasing his superior shotmaking ability.
No shot was bigger than the one he hit directly in LeBron’s mug with 45 seconds left to give the Warriors a point lead they would never relinquish, winning 118-113. Who could have imagined that could be his final plan: to casually dribble into a contested trey while defended by a man many consider the best player in the world?
This might be the most disrespectful shot I’ve ever seen, especially considering the magnitude of the moment. In one fell stroke, Durant ascended into the glorious lore of Golden State basketball forever. This is the moment that secured his first NBA Finals MVP, and his place in the pantheon of All-Time greats.
Finding Love: Curry backpedals into a dagger over Cavs, June 3rd, 2018
“About seven seconds on the clock he just kept going backward, I don’t know why, but he just threw it up and I didn’t think it had any chance of going in,” Klay Thompson said. “That was kind of like a dagger shot. It just gave us all the momentum back.”
I’m just going to let various announcers in the clip convey just how preposterous this circus shot was during the Warriors 122-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals. All I’m going to say are these three things:
- I’m glad Cavaliers fans now know the difference between Kevin Love guarding injured-Curry and healthy-Curry in the Finals.
- This occurred on the night Curry set the all-time record for most made three-pointers in an NBA Finals game.
- This shot is extra disrespectful with the added power of “The Town” jerseys showing homage to Oakland.
Back2Back: KD Deja Vu’s LeBron out of Cleveland, June 7th, 2018
“No, that wasn’t the same shot,” LeBron James said when asked to compare Durant’s 3 to last year’s. “The one he made tonight was about four or five feet behind the one he made last year. He’s an assassin. That was one of those assassin plays right there.”
The Warriors found themselves in a familiar position the during 2018 Finals: heading to Cleveland yet again for another contentious Game 3. Holding on to a 2-0 that could very well have been much different if not for the George Hill-J.R. Smith gaffe, the Dubs did not want to drop a game to their rival and give them any life. Thankfully, taking the air out of Cleveland is Durant’s specialty.
As the shot clock wound down in the final minute of an emotionally charged battle, KD nonchalantly dribbled way out beyond the top of the arc. Carrying a three-point lead, Durant’s eyes probed the Cavs defense, his off-hand gesturing forcefully for Andre Iguodala to bring a screen. As soon as Iguodala got into position to set the pick, Durant kangaroo-hopped around him into a shooting motion, anticipating the Cavs defense being a millisecond slow on their switch.
By the time J.R. Smith recovered, the 7-foot assassin KD was already locked in on the basket, drilling a bomb from 30+ feet that effectively ended the series and wrapped up his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP trophy. He scored a career playoff-high 43 points on the night, and the Warriors were victorious over their rival, 110-102. It was also the last time a LeBron James-led Cavs team would be involved in a competitive game.
What is your favorite dagger to Cleveland’s heart?
This poll is closed
Thizz Face: Curry Cooks Delly
Not This Guy: KD Buries Cleveland Alive
Finding Love: Curry backpedals into a dagger over Cavs
KD Deja Vu’s Lebron out of Cleveland