In Game 6, Behind Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Golden State Wins the NBA Championship over LeBron James and Cleveland, 105-97

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The last time the Warriors won the chip neither of these cats were born. 

The Golden State Warriors complete a dream season by disposing of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Andre Iguodala, who had 25 points, 5 rips and 5 assists, became the first Finals MVP with 0 regular season starts. The Warriors, founded in Philadelphia in 1946, claims it’s 4th NBA title (1946, 1957, 1975 and 2015) and the first in 40 years. Steve Kerr became the 1st rookie head coach to win a title since Pat Riley did the same in 1982. The 67-15 Dubs went 16-5 during the playoffs, and ended the year with the 3rd most wins in NBA history behind the ’95-’96 and ’96-’97 Chicago Bulls — two teams that Steve Kerr made big shots for whenever Michael Jordan found himself doubled.  LeBron had 32 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists to lead the Cavs, but it just wasn’t enough, and Cleveland remains in search of its first title of any kind since 1964. Steph Curry, who had 25 points to match Iguodala, also had 8 dimes, 6 boards and 3 steals.

Oakland rejoices for the first time since 1975 when Rick Barry shot free throws like Riley Curry would.

That ain’t no diss…

Some of the happenings in 1975: The Wheel of Fortune premiered on NBC, Space Mountain opened in Disney World, Immaculata University beat the University of Maryland in the first women’s basketball game televised nationally, 80-48, Bill Gates and Paul Allen created Microsoft, Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing, Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manilla, Cincinnati won the World Series over Boston and Pittsburgh captured its first Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings 16-6.

It was the birth year for Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Juicy J, Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Ray Allen, Charlize Theron, and Tiger Woods, to name a few. Gas cost 44 cents a gallon, a new house sold for $11, 787, and a new car could be had for $4,250.

The Al Attles led Golden State Warriors sweep the K.C. Jones coached Washington Bullets in one of the biggest upsets in league history, in an NBA Finals featuring the first ever pairing of two Black head coaches in any professional sport.

That was 1975; this is 2015. The Warriors seemingly made every play this season when they had to do so. They were 58-0 when leading any game by 15 or more. That speaks to their consistent shooting, impenetrable team spirit, and the greatness of Warriors’ personnel. Their bench is long, fast and talented; every bench player has a compelling story to tell. In the first 3 games, Steve Kerr was criticized for not making the necessary adjustments to turn back a depleted Cavs squad with its own historical inspiration. Cleveland hasn’t won a title in 51 years, and facing a 2-1 deficit, Kerr changed the starting lineup by benching All Defensive 3rd team center Andrew Bogut with the smart athletic versatility of Andre Iguodala. I’ve come to notice that Iguodala gets up for LeBron, and unless he was picked off for a less capable defender, Andre made LeBron work every single time down the floor. He averaged 16.3, shot 52% from the floor (40 from behind the arc — which was huge), pulled down almost 6 rebounds and dished 4 assists over the series. His free throws were abysmal, but despite the hack-a-Iguodala Cleveland employed late in games, his teammates held on because it wanted to explicitly know of gold.

I tried to tell Sixers fans that all Dre needed was a true compliment of talent around him, and the city would then be able to understand what he does for a team. He was coming off his first All-Star nod, and later won a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics — the same year he was traded out of Philly in the mega Dwight Howard to Los Angeles trade that landed the Sixers the problems of Andrew Bynum. Bynum never played a minute in Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala was a glue guy true indeed, and despite his being known as a dunker and a defensive stopper, what fans should know is that his versatility galvanizes a team because he does so many things well offensively. He took it personal when matched up with LeBron, and yes James went off like few have in the NBA Finals, but Dre’s defense bothered the 4-time MVP just enough, and contributed to James’ evident fatigue as the series wore on.

Cleveland never recovered once Golden State went small. Kerr emphatically out-coached David Blatt, and by extension LeBron James. Iguodala and Draymond Green are essentially point guards, and Cleveland had no shot of matching their versatile and physical intensity with such a depleted bench. Harrison Barnes hit big shots in spurts. Cleveland tired to run with Golden State early in Game 4 after a spirited Game 3 win for reasons unknown, but that obviously was the wrong game plan. Speaking of the bench, I’ve written of Shaun Livingston a few times, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many are happy he is part of this championship winning Warriors team. That injury at 21, when his star was powering up to explode, was one of the more sad moments many of us have witnessed as hoops fans.

Steph Curry with the shot…

Many have spoken that Steph Curry was visibly upset he didn’t win Finals MVP (looked like his adorable daughter Riley was hot too, bless her heart), but with LeBron going off the way he did, it made every sense to give it to AI9 being he was the series pulse maker…and taker.

Chef definitely has a gripe. He hit 98 of 232 3-pointers this postseason, scored 594 points (28.3 average), dished out 6 assists, pulled down 5 boards and stole almost 2 a game. Without his MVP year, Golden State doesn’t get here. He’s as impressive a player as any because his good shots are bad shots that get players cut, and coaches fired; daggers of NBA brethren blood. His jumper is the best I’ve ever seen because he needs no space to get his shot off, and that’s definitely something his sharp shooting NBA father Dell Curry passed his basketball way. Golden State fans, don’t twist your face at his reaction when Dre garnered the Finals MVP because that fire serves the future well. It was so  dope to see his family involved on and off the court. Riley Curry became a star at the podium or whenever she was shown doing what she does: enjoying her father’s time to shine. She’s as special as is the rest of her family, and despite her young age, the soul model example her parents are, will show and prove for her future regardless of what she eventually becomes professionally. Go get it Riley Curry. We’ll be watching precious.

All this lends itself to say that the Golden State Warriors ain’t done, but neither is Cleveland…

LeBron James left South Beach to  win a title in his home state of Ohio after acquiring two rings in 4 Miami Heat tries. His coming home after a much scrutinized decision to leave 5 years ago made for a good story, yet many will inexplicably still see his taking such an underwhelming bunch to the pinnacle as failure. James led teams are now 2-4 in the NBA Finals, and the rationale of many fans would say those teams lost because of him. He’s lost to great coaching in all of those 4 defeats, so maybe it’s time for Bron to have a coach to relieve the ubiquitous pressure before him to achieve the success of those alpha stars to who he is unnecessarily compared. After he won his first with the Heat, I thought that idiotic noise would subside, but it appears the volume will be turned up a notch despite his otherworldly Finals stat lines. Make sure you get away far this summer LeBron. Don’t even touch a basketball for a while outside of feeding your sons for asphalt jumpers.

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Did he trust his teammates a little too much? Hell yeah, but that is what an athlete does right? We expect our superstars to be superstar teammates, yet because of his predecessors Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James is held to a standard he can never surpass in many fans eyes. When we look back on this series, we’ll place The King of Rock’s greatness in its proper context, but for now, the haters  will have their day. He should have nothing to prove to anyone but himself, but in these social media debatable times, the ghost of Michael Jordan has almost become an insulation of sorts. If James had something to do with the Andrew Wiggins trade for Kevin Love, he deserves criticism. Wiggins could end up the best of his generation as LeBron is to this current age, but when Love went down in the first round coupled with Kyrie Irving’s injury, the Cavs were doing nothing more than delaying the Golden State inevitable.

Moving forward, does Cleveland ax David Blatt? What happens with the aforementioned Love? Does Kyrie Irving ever play a full season? When he does come back from what will be a long and painful rehab, do he move to the two? How much of Cleveland’s roster will resemble this unit? Do Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson have bigger roles next season? Do you pay Tristan Thompson (who I see as the evolution of Michael Cage) what he’ll garner on the open market? Cleveland are you doing alright? LeBron did say that it might not be in the cards this season, and that year two is the key. That is, if there is a year two. Playing in 5 straight Finals, the first anyone has done so since those famed Celtics teams of the 60’s, has tired him mentally and physically to no end.

He can’t hide in his own league.

LeBron’s telling quote after Game 6 via Business Insider: “Well, of course you question it, especially when you get to this point. I always look at it would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in The Finals? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve missed the playoffs twice. I lost in The Finals four times. I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in The Finals. It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it. But then I lock back in and I start thinking about how fun it is to compete during the playoffs and the first round, the second round, and Eastern Conference Finals. If I’m lucky enough to get here again, it will be fun to do it. But put my body through a lot, you know, but it’s the price for your body feeling this way for winning. Did I win? I didn’t win a championship, but I’ve done a lot of good things in this first year back, and hopefully I can continue it.”

Also from that BI piece is the reality of LeBron playing 2000+ minutes than the next player (Kevin Durant) since 2010. That is just ridiculous, and reminiscent of the same strenuous load placed on Kobe Bryant in his prime. Even though James is built like a Titan, playing so much basketball will drop his physical gifts one day in the not to distant future off a cliff. You know what they say about Father Time…

He’s Undefeated.

Dan Gilbert and David Griffin you are now on the clock. How much do you want to win, and how much do you want to win with one of the GOAT athletes to ever play any sport? Think hard, think long, and most definitely do not think wrong, because as we’ve seen with the Golden State Warriors in their unfathomable NBA ascension, anything can happen in this league. Who would have thought with all the teams above the Dubs over the last half a decade, that they would be the ones holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2015? Respect is also due to Mark Jackson. He gave this team toughness. It had to be personally and professionally difficult to see a team he raised win a chip for another head coach, and hopefully he’ll get another shot to win. As Okori Wadswoth said last night (a podcast with he, Nina Morena, Naj Grant and I is forthcoming), could that spot be guiding the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Hmmm, very interesting. I’d have approached Jackson immediately after last night’s loss and offered him the job on the spot. What a rivalry this could become, but for now, it’s all about the Golden State Warriors. Congrats to their fans.

Where does this Golden State team sit for time? Tough to gauge given all the injured teams they’ve faced in these playoffs, yet one by one, those teams fell to the W’s soulful will. They shot the ball well when it mattered, and also defended in earnest, so no one truly can ever discredit their incredible season. Being such a relatively young team, how much can this team truly accomplish is dope to visualize. They will lose the architect of their spread and roll in Alvin Gentry, but the Warriors loss is Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans’ gain. The West will be tough, but now Golden State is tougher.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Go Riley…

 

It was also great that Oakland celebrates on Tupac Shakur’s birthday.

As a friend just texted, it’s Poetic Justice. RIP Pac.

Box score: Cleveland vs Golden State, June 16th, 2015

Warriors

STARTERS PT R A PF FG 3FG FT TO STL BK MIN FPT
A. Iguodala 25 5 5 4 9-20 3-8 4-10 0 2 0 36 42
S. Curry 25 6 8 3 8-19 3-11 6-8 3 3 0 43 47
D. Green 16 11 10 5 6-13 2-5 2-4 3 3 1 41 48
H. Barnes 9 2 2 3 3-8 3-4 0-0 0 1 0 35 16
K. Thompson 5 5 2 6 2-7 1-3 0-0 2 0 1 25 13
BENCH PT R A PF FG 3FG FT TO STL BK MIN FPT
S. Livingston 10 3 0 3 4-6 0-0 2-2 0 0 1 32 14
F. Ezeli 10 4 0 2 3-6 0-0 4-5 1 0 1 11 14
L. Barbosa 5 3 1 1 2-5 1-3 0-0 0 2 0 15 12
A. Bogut 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Lee 0 0 0 0 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0
J. Holiday 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
B. Rush 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Speights 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
O. Kuzmic 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
J. McAdoo 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
Cavaliers
STARTERS PT R A PF FG 3FG FT TO STL BK MIN FPT
L. James 32 18 9 3 13-33 2-10 4-8 6 2 0 47 64
T. Mozgov 17 12 2 3 5-8 0-0 7-8 3 0 4 33 34
T. Thompson 15 13 0 2 7-12 0-0 1-2 1 0 1 37 28
I. Shumpert 8 3 0 6 1-6 0-3 6-8 2 0 1 36 10
M. Dellavedova 1 4 2 6 0-3 0-0 1-2 2 0 0 25 7
BENCH PT R A PF FG 3FG FT TO STL BK MIN FPT
J. Smith 19 5 1 3 5-15 4-9 5-8 1 1 1 34 27
J. Jones 5 1 0 3 1-5 0-4 3-3 1 0 0 27 5
S. Marion 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Miller 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0
B. Haywood 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Perkins 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Varejao 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Love 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Irving 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Kennedy 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Harris 0 0 0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0

Team Stats

STAT TOTAL TOTAL
Points 105 97
Field Goals 37-85, 43% 32-82, 39%
Free Throws 18-29, 62% 27-39, 69%
3-pointers 13-34, 38% 6-26, 23%
Off. Rebounds 7 16
Def. Rebounds 32 40
Total Rebounds 39 56
Assists 28 14
Blocks 4 7
Fouls 27 26
Steals 11 3
Turnovers 9 16

 

The process of Andre Iguodala becoming a leader (from ’08) from inside the Sixers locker room. Shouts to Anthony Gilbert. We miss talking to Dre here in Philly.

One Response to “In Game 6, Behind Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Golden State Wins the NBA Championship over LeBron James and Cleveland, 105-97”

  1. King James says:

    And a year later, Lebron drops 40 on him in back to back games. To be fair though, he is hobbled but I hope the Cavs can close it out this year