Early trouble, followed by domination. It’s a sentence that thoroughly describes the Golden State Warriors throughout the season, including the postseason, and the NBA Finals were no different.
After a rough start to the NBA Finals, in which they were outplayed in their first two home games, and dominated for most of Game 3, the Warriors looked to be in deep trouble. However, as was the case in their second round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors overcame a 2-1 deficit, en route to dominating the final three games of the series.
The Warriors won the final three games of the Memphis series by 17, 20 and 13 points. In this series, they won by 21 in Game 4, and pulled away to win Game 5 by 11. Tonight, got off to a sluggish start, only to dominate most of the remainder of the game. After trailing 7-2 early, the Warriors began to roll. They outscored the Cavs 26-13 the rest of the quarter, and took a 28-15 lead into the second.
After a sluggish second quarter, in which they had a span of nine straight missed field goals, the Warriors got outscored 28-17 in the quarter, but managed to take a 45-43 lead into halftime. Then, they allowed Timofey Mosgov to score twice in the early moments of the second half, finding themselves down for the first time since the opening quarter.
And then, they began to pull away for good. The Warriors went on a 28-11 run, and took a 73-58 lead in the final minute of the quarter. It was the 58th game of the season where they held a 15-point lead, and essentially marked the end of the Cavaliers season. In the previous 57 games where the Warriors led by as many points, they were undefeated. Surely, the same was going to happen on this night.
However, the Cavaliers did not go away easy. Trailing 73-61 entering the final quarter, the Cavs kept fighting back. However, the Warriors matched them shot for shot, and led by as many as 15 in the final frame, including a 94-79 lead with 5:07 remaining. The traction continued, as the Warriors led 98-85, with under two minutes left to go in the game.
Then, JR Smith finally woke up. The often beleaguered swingman made a trio of three-pointers, cutting the Warriors lead to 101-97 with 33 seconds remaining. However, the Warriors made four of their final six free throws, the Cavaliers did not score again, and the Warriors won the decisive Game 6 by a final score of 105-97.
Andre Iguodala and NBA MVP Stephen Curry led the team with 25 points apiece. Iguodala added five rebounds and five assists, while Curry had six rebounds, eight assists and three steals of his own. Both added three three-pointers each, and the two men were the driving forces behind the Warriors’ NBA Finals comeback.
Iguodala came away with the NBA Finals MVP award, in a performance reminiscent of Kawhi Leonard’s performance from a year earlier. In his first ten NBA seasons, the swingman started all 758 games he had played in. This season, for the first time in his NBA career, he had to come off the bench. Not only that, he did not make his first start until Game 4 of the Finals. For the series, he averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and four assists per game, all while shooting 52 percent from the floor.
Klay Thompson, widely regarded as the second-best player on the team had one of his worst games of the season. He managed just five points on 2 of 7 shooting, while chipping in five rebounds, and fouling out in just 25 minutes.
Draymond Green put up a triple-double, scoring 16 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 10 assists.
The Warriors shot 43.5 percent from the floor, made 13 three-pointers, and doubled the Cavaliers on assists (28 to 14.) They only turned the ball over nine times in the entire game.
As for the Cavaliers, it was the Lebron James show once again. For most of the game, he was the only force going for the team. He scored 32 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and put out nine assists. JR Smith had 19 points, but most of them came in the final minutes of the game. Timofey Mosgov added 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Tristan Thompson mustered 15 points and 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, Matthew Dellavedova, the early darling of the series, scored just one point.
In the end, the Cavaliers were out of gas. They made it interesting in the final minutes, but had nothing left. The injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were too much to overcome. The Cavaliers were clearly the best team in the East, but the Warriors were the best team in the NBA all season long, with no team, not even last years champions, looking like they could beat them. The Cavaliers looked like a team that played like the Grizzlies who, had they been in the East, and the Cavs had been in the West, would have played the way the other had this season. Except, in the West, the Cavs would’ve likely succumbed to their injuries.
However, the Cavaliers did something few people thought they could; they made this a series. They lost Kyrie Irving in the first game, in a scenario which could have been avoided, had James simply made that last-second shot. Many “experts” had predicted them to lose in five games even before the injury, and with Irving gone, many had thought they were going to be left for dead. And yet, the Cavaliers overcame that adversity. They won a thrilling Game 2, despite a meltdown late in regulation. Then, they soon a wire-to-wire game in Game 3, before suffering the same fate as the Grizzlies did a month earlier.
It was a great series, which ended as predicted, in six games.Had Irving not gotten hurt, and the Cavs won Game 1, anything could have happened. However, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, future NBA Finals wind up being just as, if not more exciting.
Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, the 2014-2015 NBA Champions.