For the first time since 1975, the Golden State Warriors are NBA champions. Behind the steady all-around play of Andre Iguodala, the brilliance of Stephen Curry and a Draymond Green triple-double, the Warriors were able to end the Cleveland Cavaliers' season with a 105-97 Game 6 win.
Iguodala, who was later named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals, finished with 24 points while Curry had 25 points and eight assists.
LeBron James led the way for Cleveland with 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in 46 minutes of play. Timofey Mozgov added in 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Early on it looked like thewere going to run the off the floor. Their constant defensive switches were on point, and their long arms were swarming passing lanes everywhere. Cleveland was forced into three early shot-clock violations and continuously coughed the ball up. Meanwhile, Golden State's offense looked proficient once again. The ball moved quickly and side to side. Curry created open opportunities for everyone.
The Warriors registered 16 assists on 18 first-half field goals. They also forced 13 Cavaliers turnovers to create 19 points. But Cleveland, behind the interior play of(who after playing just nine minutes in Game 4 was reinserted back into the rotation by Cavaliers head coach David Blatt), was able to keep the game close by grabbing seemingly every missed shot and repeatedly drawing Golden State fouls.
The Cavaliers won the first-half rebounding battle, 29-16. Eight of those rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor. They also got to the foul line 21 times. They missed eight of them, but the constant trips to the charity stripe slowed the pace of the game and put the brakes on Golden State's high-octane attack. The Warriors, meanwhile, only attempted four first-half free throws.
Most of this work was done by Mozgov, who the Warriors had no answer for with the 6'7 Draymond Green (16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) playing center. also seemed intent on conserving his energy in the first half and repeatedly looked for Mozgov in the post. The Cavaliers, behind an 8-2 run to close the half, were able to trim a 13-point Warriors lead down to two and enter the locker room trailing, 45-43.
The Cavaliers took an early lead in the third quarter, but that quickly evaporated during a 18-4 Warriors run which was led by Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli. Iguodala, who was being guarded by the much larger Mozgov, was left open for jump shots along the perimeter and made the Cavaliers pay. Ezeli, meanwhile, was sent in by Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to deal with Mozgov and responded with his best game of the playoffs. He scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
James continued to look lethargic and exhausted. Instead of taking the ball to the basket, he roamed around near the three-point line, and he was late on multiple defensive rotations. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 28-18 in the third quarter and entered the fourth with a 12-point lead.
But Cleveland came out with some fire in the fourth. A quick 7-0 run, punctuated by a James breakaway dunk off a steal, cut the Warriors' lead to seven.
Then the Warriors' offense kicked into high gear and once again looked like the one that was No. 2 in the NBA this season in offensive efficiency. Curry used his crossover to create separation behind the three-point line, and the Cavaliers had no answer for the pick-and-roll involving he and Green. Klay Thompson -- who had just five points -- hit a three-pointer, and Iguodala continued to knock down shots. The Cavaliers showed fight as they cut the Warriors lead to four with 29.1 second left behind some three-pointers and missed Golden State free throws. But two foul shots from Curry and a rare miss by J.R. Smith, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, marked the end of Cleveland's season.
3 other things we learned
Depth got the Warriors a title
Obviously Curry played a large role, just as Green did. But think about all the other players who contributed to this title run. There was that run by David Lee earlier this series. Leandro Barbosa had a big Game 5. Ezeli showed up in Game 6. And there was the play of Iguodala, who two weeks ago no one expected to be named Finals MVP. Think about it like this: Khompson had a bad series, Curry barely played to his averages and the team still won the tile. Depth is why the Warriors were able to.
LeBron is human
The stats -- 32 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists in 46 minutes of play -- from Game 6 look great, but something was just off. James didn't have the same bounce in his step. This is understandable given that he played approximately 4,321 minutes combined in the first five games of the series, but for the Cavaliers to have a chance against this Warriors, LeBron needed to play at a Michael Jordan level. Tuesday night he did not, and because of it, the Cavaliers' season came to a disappointing end.
Relying on scrubs is a bad plan
The Cavaliers were able to overcome all the injuries at the beginning of the series, but eventually the team, and specifically James, just wore down. There was just no one there to help LeBron carry the load, to allow him to take a break. Matthew Dellavedova (who a week ago was being hailed as the second coming of, well, something) was clueless the last couple of games. He scored just one point in 25 minutes in Game 6 and seemed to be fumbling the ball all over the place. Smith got hot late but he couldn't buy a basket earlier on. Iman Shumpert had just eight points in 35 minutes in Game 6. Scrap, whatever that means, and toughness are great things to have. But talent is better.