In a game ridden with streaks by both teams, the Golden State Warriors came out victorious and are the 2015 NBA Champions. They won by a score of 105-97.
Similar to the Warriors’ last two victories, they were able to get out to an early lead, which had given them early breathing room in Games 4 and 5. Both the Cavaliers and Warriors looked to start the game filled with butterflies, each knowing that this game may be their last of the NBA Finals. While the Warriors were able to get over their early jitters in the first quarter, the Cavaliers remained very nervous, exemplified in their nine first quarter turnovers. For the Warriors, all of their starters were locked in and making shots by the end of the first 12 minutes.
The Warriors were in firm control by the end of the quarter, they were leading by a score of 28-15. They capped off the quarter with a 15-3 run to secure their lead. Keep in mind that this season the Warriors are 57-0 when they have a 15-point lead. The Warriors made four of their first 8 three-point field goal attempts. Surprisingly, Timofey Mozgov played more minutes in the first quarter than he did in all of Game 5 to keep up with the smaller line-up of the Golden State Warriors. The Russian center finished the game having played 33 minutes, scoring 17 points and pulling down 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Once again, Klay Thompson had a rough game. He had to be substituted early in the second quarter due to having committed his third foul in just 11 minutes of playing time. The Warriors were not held back by the lack of a performance by Thompson. The Warriors seemed to have adapted to his underwhelming performances after the first five games in the NBA Finals. His most points in these NBA Finals is 34, but it came in the tough loss in Game 2. Thompson finished the game having only played 25 minutes due to foul trouble, and only scored five points on 2-7 shooting. He eventually fouled out midway through the final quarter.
LeBron James took a similar role as he has these NBA Finals, backpacker. While James was isolated on most offensive plays, he did not seem comfortable around the rim, as he missed multiple layups and free throws. In the first half, James scored 15 points. LeBron holds the all-time record for points-per-game in NBA playoff elimination games (33.9). He did not seem to put his foot on the gas pedal until the end of the first half, where he scored six points in the final three minutes.
The Cavaliers began to pull themselves back into this game in the second quarter, led by Tristan Thompson, surprisingly. The score at the end of the first half was 45-43 in favor of the Golden State Warriors, who needed to remain wary of the determined and motivated Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers came into the second half with a purpose and took the early second half lead, it did not last long, as the Warriors went on a beautifully choreographed streak to retain the lead and even make it double-digits just halfway through the third quarter.
The Warriors continued with the momentum they obtained in the third quarter to hold on to their lead. When the Cavaliers saw a glimmer of hope when making a three to bring themselves within 10, one of the many Warriors shooters came down the court and returned the favor.
Andre Iguodala continued to have a major impact on the Warriors success as a starter. While Iguodala started the game 1-6, the veteran did not let that him bring him down, as he continued to bring excess energy to the young Warriors. This was one of his best performances in his professional career. He scored 23 points with five assists, which is spectacular on its own, but it came in a game that clinched his team’s NBA title.
Steve Kerr made a bold rotation move by giving Festus Ezeli more minutes after having played David Lee extensively in the last couple games. Ezeli made his minutes matter by bringing down rebounds and converting in the post, which has been a problem for the Warriors in the NBA Finals with the lack of contribution from Andrew Bogut. This was just the third game of the NBA Finals where Ezeli has had double-digit minuts (Games 1 and 3), but this was the first where he had double-digits in the score column.
Props must go out to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who made the perfect line-up changes every game, whether it be benching Bogut or starting Iguodala. Some could argue that without the extended playing time given to Andre Iguodala the Warriors never would have bounced back from the 2-1 deficit early in the NBA Finals.
Stephen Curry showed us tonight that he really wants to be the NBA Finals MVP, as he scored 18 points on 7-15 shooting with seven assists, showing he does not only contribute in the scoring column. Andre Iguodala, who did not start a single game in the regular season, ended up winning the award
You can criticize the Cavaliers as much as you want, but what really won this series for the Golden State Warriors was their stout defense every single game. Every player in their starting line-up could be called a great defender. Draymond Green did well to contain the sometimes unstoppable LeBron James with help from Andre Iguodala.
Not only did Green play well on the defensive side of the court, but he quietly had an amazing game offensively as well. He was stuffing every column of the stat sheet, he finished the game with a triple-double containing 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It is only the fifth triple-double in Warriors playoff history, first since Guy Rodgers in 1962.
The Cavaliers are expected to be much better next season and possibly favorites for the NBA title. So that is one thing for the depressed Cavaliers fans to look forward to.
[Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]