The championship drought is over. The Golden State Warriors are the 2014-15 NBA champions after dispatching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors did it, just like they have all season long, behind Stephen Curry and their overall team depth. Curry, Golden State’s leader, stepped up with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while being a plus-14. Draymond Green was fantastic with a triple-double, scoring 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
But the best player for the Warriors on this night, and the entire series, was the NBA Finals MVP Andre Igoudala. Igoudala had a playoff career-high with 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting and was also a plus-14. But just as importantly, Igoudala was instrumental in helping to contain James.
James scored 32 points on just 13-of-33 shooting, including 2-for-10 from three, as he couldn’t get enough from his supporting cast. He was dominant at times, including this game with 18 rebounds and nine assists, but ran out of gas as the Warriors overwhelmed the Cavaliers.
It was a grind in the early going as neither team was able to establish much offensively in the early going. The Golden State defense was suffocating in the first as they forced six turnovers, including three 24-second shot clock violations. Their defense allowed their offense to get kickstarted as they blitzed the Cavaliers to conclude the quarter.
After starting just 4-of-11, Golden State ended the first shooting 8-for-11 as they built a 28-15 lead after the first frame. The Warriors were moving the ball around as they assisted on 11 of their 12 made field goals in the first quarter.
However, Cleveland answered back in the second quarter as James was able to find his offensive game. After scoring just four points in the first, James answered back with 11 points in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Golden State struggled only managing 17 points, as Cleveland was able to cut the deficit to two at the half, 45-43.
Sensing they were 24 minutes away, the Warriors came out and took the game to the Cavaliers in the third. Typically, Golden State has waited until the fourth to make their runs, but the Warriors dealt the finishing blow during the third quarter.
Golden State outscored Cleveland 28-18 in the third, as they took a 73-61 lead into the final quarter of play. As it turns out, it would be the final 12 minutes of basketball of the season, but the Cavaliers would try to make one initial burst.
Cleveland would use an early 7-0 run at the onset of the first to cut the lead down to seven, but that was as close as they would come the rest of the way. Golden State would use a three-point barrage in the fourth, knocking down five threes in the quarter, as they built their lead up to 15 points.
Cleveland would make things interesting down the stretch as J.R. Smith would hit three threes to cut the lead down to four as the Warriors struggled to make their free throws. But the Cavaliers would simply not have enough in the tank as Golden State wore them down over the course of this series.
The Warriors received contributions from everyone, while Cleveland couldn’t find running mates for James. Fetus Ezeli came off the bench with 10 points, as did Shaun Livingston. Meanwhile, the shorthanded Cavaliers got 32 combined points from Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, but they were hampered by their turnovers.
Cleveland turned the ball over 16 times which led to 25 points for the Warriors. Oftentimes, it was the Golden State offense that got all the headlines, but just like tonight, their defense was the backbone of the team.
The Bay Area has been waiting for a long, long time for a title and the wait is finally over. Golden State was the best team all season, finishing with a record of 83-18, and it’s only fitting they are the ones left standing as champions of the NBA.