Earlier today at the Quicken Loans Arena, the Dubs officially claimed supremacy over Cleveland and the rest of the NBA with their impressive 105-97 Game six victory. Led by the amazing Stephen Curry and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, the Warriors have proven that small ball and long ball offense, combined with a rock solid team game, can win a title—thus disproving Charles Barkley's belief that jump-shooting teams won't ever be able to go all the way.
LeBron James averaged 35.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg, and 8.8 apg for the Finals. Those numbers were the tidal waves that the Warriors survived in order to become champion. To find safe ground, Golden State countered King James’ individual magnificence with excellent teamwork as seen in the last three games.
In Game 6, Cleveland once again counted on LBJ to single-handedly attempt to dismantle the Warriors’ championship aspiration—but at that point, the attack had become too predictable. James' body language was also noticeably glum, and lacked the fierceness from previous games. As the game wound down, it was clear that Bron’s one-man-army assault just won’t cut it against the Dubs’ kumpletong barkada.
Video via NBA
Sure, with a 32-point, 18-rebound, 9-assist outing, James kind of backed up his “I’m the best player in the world” statement two days ago. The Warriors, though, now have a better-sounding title: "We're the best team in the world."
2) IGUODALA IGNITED THE TEAM IN THE STRETCH RUN
Hearing that Iggy won the Finals MVP initially may sound surprising but if you look at his body of work more closely, the proof is right there. Yes, Steph provided the fireworks and the flashy dribbling and the impossible threes but Iggy was the Dubs’ igniter on both ends of the floor.
Andre never shut LeBron down but he subdued him enough to give Golden State enough breathing room to get past the most intense moments of the series. The importance of his role could not be stressed more than when Coach Steve Kerr decided that Iggy would be a starter for the final games of the series, which resulted in a clean 3-0 slate for Golden State. Clearly, Andre's addition to the lineup paid dividends.
The gem in Iguodala's crown was his stellar Game 6 showing, which saw him put up 25 points, five boards, five dimes, and two steals—a statline that resulted in this Finals MVP voting tally:
Finals MVP voting: Iguodala 7, James 4, Curry 0. Wow.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 17, 2015
The 2015 Finals MVP averaged 16.3 points, 5.8, rebounds, and four assists in the series. He also only committed one turnover a game while playing almost 37 minutes a night.
3) STEPH MADE IT RAIN WITH DAGGERS
Steph followed up his 37-point Game 5 outburst with a sweet shooting display in Game 6 that resulted in 25 points and eight tasty dishes. In the last period, he hit the dagger threes, and delivered valuable dimes that demoralized the Cavs and rendered their spirited comeback attempts futile.
While Iguodala set the tone with his across-the-board performances, it was Steph that once again provided the fatality. Like in Game 5, Steph finished off Cleveland in spectacular fashion, including the last few free throws in the end.
Draymond's a big boy himself so it seems wrongs to call him a mini-LeBron. But he did tally a triple-double in the series-clincher as he scored 16 points (half of LeBron's scoring average), snatched 11 boards and dished out 10 assists. Adding to his marvelous stat line were his three steals, and a block.
He also did a laudable job holding down the paint for Golden State versus his much larger opponents in Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov who did all that they could.
Video via NBA Highlights
What a time to have your best game in the series, Draymond! You've now joined the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley and LeBron, to name a few, to have tallied a triple double in the Finals.
5) THE MOST SIMPLE EQUATION: WARRIORS OVERALL TALENT LEVEL > CAVALIERS OVERALL TALENT LEVEL
We knew from the get-go that the Dubs had more talent. LeBron tried to overcome the deficit with individual brilliance but as the series went on, and as legs got tired, the team with the better parts managed to finish the race first.
Golden State simply had better guys surrounding its leader, Curry, compared to Bron’s supporting cast. Along with the usual suspects, Shaun Livingston joined forces with underrated big man Festus Ezeli in Game 6 to compile 20 points and a couple of memorable throwdowns to hold off a couple of Cavs runs. Leandro Barbosa had a few shining moments too, as did Harrison Barnes. The Dubs attacked from all angles, and the Cavs simply didn't have enough to match the firepower.
6) THIS IS NELLIE BALL COMING FULL CIRCLE
In the early '90s, then Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson along with players like Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin put the small-ball strategy to the forefront of the basketball world. It was fun to watch but none took it seriously as a style of play that could win championships. In the mid-2000s, Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns almost disproved the naysayers’ theory but the two-time MVP would always come up short.
Know what doesn't come short?
Don Nelson's free-throw shot!
Today, Steph and the gang finally proved that yes, it could work. These 2014-2015 Warriors have perfected Nellie Ball, and have been able to display it on the game's biggest stage. Call it poetic justice: Don Nelson popularized it in Golden State first, so it’s just right that the Warriors are the first small-ball team to become NBA champs.
The basketball gods simply couldn’t have written it better.
With that, we finish yet another sterling NBA season. Congratulations to the 2015 champs, the Golden State Warriors!
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