After defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in game six, the Golden State Warriors are the 2014-2015 NBA champs, their first title since 1975. Andre Iguodola, who scored 25 points Tuesday night, was honored with the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy.
While Stephen Curry’s brilliance was the storyline for most of the Warriors’ 67 win regular season, the secret to their success all season has been depth. The ability to go 9-men deep is a rare luxury only a select few teams can boast. Golden State clinched because of Draymond Green’s triple-double (16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists), Iguodola’s ability to slow LeBron James and contribute on the offensive end, and Stephen Curry’s 25 points for good measure. “Strength in Numbers” became the Warriors’ team motto, and Cleveland just couldn’t match their arsenal of weapons.
“We ran out of talent,” James told reporters after the game, his head buried in a towel. “We gave everything we had.” To be fair, James truly gave everything he had. Game six was another signature performance in his storied career (32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists) as “King James” came in second in Finals MVP voting. Jerry West (1969) remains the only player to win the award in a losing effort.
Facing a 2-1 series deficit Warriors head coach Steve Kerr inserted Iguodola into the starting lineup in place of Andrew Bogut. The gamble gave Golden State an explosive boost in transition and better floor spacing to free up their dead-eye shooters, and changed the momentum of the whole series. In game six, they got off to a quick start, building up a 13 point lead at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland fought and clawed their way back into the game, only trailing by two at the half after a Tristian Thompson follow-up slam. But too often they resorted to James-centered isolation basketball, while Golden State continued to work together–they assisted on 16 of their 18 field goals in the first half.
The second half was a Warriors showcase. Harrison Barnes’ three pointer with 9:48 in the third quarter put Golden State up for good. JR Smith, so idle for most of the series, unleashed a flurry of threes late in the fourth to bring the Cleveland deficit to a 101-97 count. It was too little too late, and Golden State would eventually hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. That was all she wrote.
By Kyle Edwards