Sports Today: Breaking down the NBA Finals, Reds take high school phenom, OSU coach introduced

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Sports Today: Breaking down the NBA Finals, Reds take high school phenom, OSU coach introduced

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OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after being named Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 to win the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Larry O’Brien Trophy is going back to the Golden State Warriors, who vanquished LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last night. 

Here are five takeaways: 

1. The sign the defending champs were finally broken wasn't a barrage of Golden State threes but a litany of layups. 

After a good performance in which they came up short in Game 3 and a historically great show in Game 4, the Cavaliers just couldn't keep up in Game 5 (much like the first two in Oakland). 

They withstood a vintage Warriors avalanche in the second quarter with the help of a momentum-halting fracas instigated by David West and some timely threes by J.R. Smith. They hung tough through the third but just didn't have enough in the end.

(Seems kind of tone-deaf for Xavier to embrace an alumnus for getting into a near-fight on court... 

... but then nobody was ever accused of having perspective or a long memory these days.) 

2. As a neutral observer, it felt a bit icky watching another super team — this time an even super-er team! — win. 

But it was fun watching Kevin Durant and LeBron James take turns proving their individual greatness, too. 

 3. Just like I didn't like how the LeBron Heat were put together, Durant’s joining the Warriors bothered me. It was no doubt worse since Golden State was already a great team. 

(I guess the “coming home” aspect obscured LeBron trying to circumvent the normal team building process again in Cleveland, but the previous Cavs teams had been much worse than the Heat were before LeBron took his talents to South Beach.) 

Just seems like these guys are taking shortcuts, which makes me wonder if it's less satisfying in the end for them, too. 

I guess it's not, though. 

Can you beat the pure joy shown by Durant and his mom last night? 

Watching that without smiling was impossible. 

And say this for Durant: He wasn't just along for the ride. He became the alpha dog. 

Steph Curry's career trajectory will never be the same after sharing the spotlight with him. 

And they really might be just getting started making history. 

4. Maybe it's appropriate LeBron looks like he'll ultimately be locked out of maximizing championship potential because of an even better collection of all-stars elsewhere. 

The movement he hastened is also his curse. 

5. I’m not sure what's next for the league, but hopefully each conference can put together another legitimate threat. 

If you look down the list of other playoff teams, you’ll generally find 1-2 superstars, whereas Cleveland has three and the Warriors have four. 

All hope is not lost for a competitive future, though. 

As great as the 72-win Bulls were in 1996, they were pushed hard by the Jazz in ’97 and ’98. 

They looked particularly vulnerable the last year after a grueling Eastern Conference Finals against Reggie Miller's Pacers, but they were also much older than these Warriors. 

I also expect the league to continue to mature as we get deeper into the one-and-done era. There are more great stars ready to come into their own and take their shot at the King — and the Warriors... 

The Reds done gone and done it: They had the opportunity to take a potentially franchise-changing player in Hunter Greene and did not pass. 

As great as Nick Senzel’s first year in professional baseball has been, Greene is something else entirely. 

He’s already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was compared to LeBron James and Babe Ruth. 

He’s grown up in baseball, wants to be a community leader and, ya know, is extremely good at throwing, hitting and fielding baseballs. 

There is always risk involved in taking a high school hurler, but I have already written that I loved the fact there’s a built-in backup plan for him if pitching doesn’t work out. 

(What can I say: I don’t like tanking, but I do like safe bets.) 

Ohio State’s introductory press conference for Chris Holtmann was interesting. 

AD Gene Smith offered more info on the hiring process than I would have expected. After a week in which about a half dozen names were connected to the OSU job, Smith claimed Holtmann was his No. 1 candidate all along. 

This is on one hand good (and perhaps necessary) PR, but it’s also plausible. 

I always believed he was the best realistic candidate (Never knew why Chris Mack would leave Xavier now), and Smith is correct when he says he had to keep vetting options as long as he wasn’t sure what Holtmann was going to do. 

The new coach of the Buckeyes said all the right things on Day 1, and he’s got a great opportunity to hit the ground running with a large crop of highly regarded recruits residing in Ohio for 2018. 

He seemed to acknowledge more than once his current roster for this fall has some limitations, but he also might not be done adding to that if Kyle Young, a four-star forward from Massillon Jackson who signed with Butler can get out of his national letter of intent. 

Per 247sports

“Kyle is seriously considering joining Coach Holtmann at Ohio State,” a source indicated. “One key to the decision could be the status of (Butler assistant) Ryan Pedon. He is the one who recruited Young and basically beat Ohio State for him. If Pedon stays at Butler, it’s possible he could still go there.” 

With Butler hiring LaVell Jordan as its new head coach last night, cleveland.com reports Holtmann is expected to bring Pedon and his other Butler assistants to Ohio State with him. 

Stay tuned! 

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