In a classic series between the league’s best team and the league’s best player, the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games to win the NBA title.
With Kevin Love out for the year, Kyrie Irving injured in Game 1, and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert mired in shooting slumps, LeBron James turned in one of the most extraordinary one-man performances in Finals history. He took on the role of creator, distributor, and scorer. He played, at times, point guard, center, and forward. He led his team in points, rebounds, and assists. Game 6, a 105-97 loss, was his weakest game of the series, and he still had 32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists.
He did everything an individual player can conceivably do in a series, but it was ultimately an impossible task. The Warriors were simply too good. They were the deeper, fresher, more skilled team in the Finals, and Stephen Curry and Co. lifting the trophy was the proper ending to a dominant season.
The turning point of the series came in Game 4.
Down 2-1 on the road, the Warriors decided to go all-in on a small-ball lineup they’d used as a sort of secret weapon all year. They brought Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup in place of Andrew Bogut, and played the six-foot-seven Draymond Green at center. It worked. Golden State finally got rolling offensively in a comfortable win in Game 4, despite a dominant performance from Cavs big man Timofey Mozgov. That game spooked Cavs coach David Blatt so much that he benched Mozgov for almost all of Game 5, which the Warriors won anyway with a strong fourth-quarter push. Blatt brought back Mozgov for Game 6, but it wasn’t enough, and the Warriors beat the fatigued Cavaliers to win the series.
Iguodala, who didn’t start a game this year until Game 4, won Finals MVP.
Curry was overshadowed by LeBron for much of the series, but he came up big in the final three games. As the Cavs tried to mount one final comeback in Game 6, Curry hit two huge threes and created another one with an assist to put Cleveland away for good:
It was a great Finals. We had unlikely heroes of all shapes and sizes, close games, and intricate strategic adjustments on the fly. But mostly we got a great player trying to beat a great team by himself, making everyone believe he actually could before the inevitable prevailed.
The moment Golden State clinched it:
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