Right & Wrong: Warriors win Game 6 and First Finals in 40 years

VIDEO: Andre Iguodala grabs an unlikely Finals MVP award

CLEVELAND — The Golden State Warriors wobbled, but in the end they wouldn’t fall down. After trailing 2-1 early in the NBA Finals, the Warriors went small and ran away with the series, rallying to take three in a row over the Cleveland Cavaliers, including a 105-97 win in Game 6. The Warriors followed the same recipe that led to wins in Games 4 and 5, going with a shorter lineup and trying to push the tempo throughout the night.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong in Game 6.

Right: The substitution that perhaps saved the Warriors season came before Game 4, when Steve Kerr swapped out starting center Andrew Bogut in favor of small forward Andre Iguodala. Though Iguodala hadn’t started a game all season, he slid seamlessly into the front five, averaging 20.3 ppg in his three starts. Iguodala also did a terrific job pestering LeBron James on the defensive end. In Game 6, early on the Cavs seemed content to give Iguodala perimeter jumpers, and he stepped up to the challenge, finishing with 25 points and putting a lock on the NBA Finals MVP award. “My mind was working so many ways,” said Iguodala. “Like, what’s going to happen if you win? What’s going to happen if you lose? How do you approach the game starting? Do you come out firing? Do you let it just come to you? So for me, it was just playing my game. If you’re feeling it, shoot it. If you feel like you can make a play for somebody else, just make a play for somebody else.”

Wrong: I’m putting LeBron James in the “wrong” category only because he was on the losing team. Yes, he’s now 2-for-6 in the NBA Finals, but the truth is, LeBron didn’t really do much wrong this entire series. Even in Game 6, when he was clearly tired and struggling to knock down jumpers, James finished with a monster stat-line: 32 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists. For the Finals, James averaged 45.8 minutes per game, and in that time averaged 35.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg and 8.8 apg. Considering the injuries afflicting the Cavs and the struggles of some of James’ teammates, it was about as impressive a performance in a losing effort as you’ll ever see.

Right: An often-overlooked part of the Warriors going to their small lineup and using Iguodala as a starter was 6-foot-7 Draymond Green logging time at center. There were times when Cleveland struggled to take advantage of a size advantage — like in Game 5 when they tried to match small lineups with the Warriors — but the Cavs went big in Game 6, playing the seven-footer Timofey Mozgov for 32 minutes. Despite being outsized, Green more than held his own in Game 6, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, the first triple-double by a Warrior in Finals history. Not a bad way at all to finish out his season, as the player overlooked coming into the NBA heads toward free agency this summer. “I won the National Player of the Year Award in college, consensus All-American,” Green said. “I made every, every single First Team All-American that you could possibly make, and I was a second round pick, and a lot of people said I could never play in this league: ‘Too slow, too small, can’t shoot well enough, can’t defend nobody. What does he do well? He doesn’t have a skill.’ I’ve got heart, and that’s what stands out.”

Wrong: In this close-out game, with possessions at a premium in the postseason, the Cavaliers just couldn’t take care of the ball. Even though the Cavs got to the free-throw line 39 times, they finished Game 6 with a whopping 19 turnovers, including 6 from James and 3 from Mozgov. While Cleveland was able to control the tempo early on — the score was tied at 8 after 6 minutes – they couldn’t capitalize on the deliberate pace, as they had 5 turnovers during that span, including a couple of 24-second violations.

Right: The other way the Warriors were able to successfully deviate from their “small” lineup was by using Festus Ezeli, who spent most of the season as a hard-playing reserve. In 11 minutes in Game 6, Ezeli scored 10 points, including a wicked put-back dunk with a few minutes to go in the third. Still just 25 years old, Ezeli looks to be a vibrant part of Golden State’s future.

Wrong: Let’s take a second and recognize that the Cavaliers were essentially transformed into the Cadavers in the NBA Finals, a wounded shell of the team that started the season, as they were missing Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao. Injuries are a part of sports, sure, but they’re also a “wrong” part of sports. “I’ve been watching basketball for a long time,” said James. “I’m an historian of the game. I don’t know any other team that’s gotten to The Finals without two All Stars. I cannot remember thinking of it. I don’t even know if it’s ever happened, for a team to lose two All Stars and still be able to make it to The Finals. Even what [Varejao] brings to our team as well, that’s another double double guy. We had three play-makers in suits this round and even throughout the playoffs. You’ve got to have all the play-makers. You’ve got to be healthy. You’ve got to be at full strength to win it. We weren’t.”

39 Comments

  1. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    In 2007 the year before Wade showed out in the finals, so when Lebron beat the Pistons who were the beast of the East at the time, and then in game 1 in the warm ups i remember Lebron putting on a dunk fest i thought he was going to come out a do something special, but the Spurs doubled him and fell back and made him shoot jumpers which he did not have at the time, but Curry is the Man MVP and really showed up in the 4th quarters, he’s right there with Lebron, and Durant when healthy, Curry best player in the game!!!! got to give it him..

  2. OverseasNBAfan says:

    WOW 3rd most successful season in NBA history behind only Jordan’s 96 and 97 Bulls teams that is an amazing feat to witness!!
    Well done Warriors they were simply dominate all year long, it was actually unbelievable the intensity on offense and defense (as well as pace) from start to finish.

    What a break out year for MVP Curry and GSW, they’re the most exciting team to watch and have been for few years now I think.. Steve Kerr is a genius, I had a feeling that his offensive system with this amazing 3pt shooting team was a perfect match, only fitting now that their record sits next to the Bulls teams he won titles with.

  3. mikoy says:

    i completely disagree with lebron.is it just me or what..is there two all star in 2007 cavs team aside from lebron?if u compared this year cavs team to that 2007 cavs team it is much weaker but still at the age of 22yr old he have carried it to the finals.so how come now he is making alibis that we reach the finals without two all star.come on bron give us a break.^_^ unless u call big Z and Gooden a all star.pershaps larry hughes or donyell marshall…hahahahahaha.i rest my case.^_^

    • Hoopsfuntowatch says:

      You absolutely nailed it in the head !!! EXCUSES EXCUSES !!! No andy No kevin No kyrie, NO PROBLEM ????!!!!
      EXCUSES EXCUSES !!!!

  4. used to ball says:

    Kerr: I was handed a great team on a silver platter & I beat an undermanned team to win it all my first year! I’m sure glad I didn’t go to the Knicks!
    Warriors: We just beat an undermanned team to get our first championship in 40 years!
    Warriors botttom bench: We didn’t have to do anything because they were undermanned & we still got our rings!

    Blatt: I’m not supposed to be here my first year. I have no idea what i’m doing. We have more than 7 players?
    LeBron: Gimme me the ball cuz you guys can’t play & the coach can’t coach. I’m the best player on the planet!
    rest of Cavs: I don’t want the ball! Here you take it! Where’s LeBron? Give it to him, we may be tired but he’s not!

  5. Kal says:

    SparkNotes version of my comments that weren’t posted, some thoughts that will probably also not be posted:

    good to see the Warriors win because i don’t think the Warriors and their organization or fans or the NBA itself could have handled them losing… whereas Cleveland and Bron have been through all this, are the strong ones…

    Phil Jackson can praise their X and Os all he wants, but the Warriors are a superteam with a big 3 no different than the Heat (or Spurs) but somehow everybody loves them but hated the Heat…

    the Warriors were a lot cooler before the NBA realized everybody liked them and turned them into the league angels. the team that messed with the Spurs and then stuck their tongue out Miley Cyrus style. now they’re all serious and stuff.

    the Warriors were so childlike in their celebration, it would have been wrong to deprive the world of that. and they have a bunch of nice guys who had good careers who earned it. and Curry and Klay will e HOFamers some day. Curry should be in already now… he is great, his game 5 showed. that’s a real game.

  6. Michael M says:

    Right: That the dubs won.
    Wrong: That Doris or whatever her name is didn’t wait until they had a chance to accept their trophies and congratulate each other as a team before she started interviewing everyone. Get outta the photos! What a dip!

  7. Kobe@Manila says:

    Congratulations to Warriors!!! They deserve it because they work as a team.. Even they lose 2 all stars, they still have a lot of best players in NBA so that is not an excuse.. Get 2 more all stars so it’s okay to lose 2 and maybe you can win against the west..

  8. jim says:

    Does Cleveland get through the Bulls series if gasoline doesn’t get injured ?

  9. jason says:

    Let’s keep in mind here that Klay Thompson (whom I think is a great player) only made the allstar team because of injuries to others. By that argument, Mr. James, not only did they make it to the finals without 2 allstarts, you were beaten by a team that didn’t have 2 allstars.

  10. pvb7 says:

    most has been said, but one thing to our great historian lbj: does really noone remember allen iverson’s sixers team of 01???

  11. Michael M says:

    Injuries are part of the grind that is the NBA season. Ask OKC, SA, Memphis, Washington, and everyone else who lost stars to injury this year.

    The problem with making anyone out to be super human is that in the end, they are human no matter how many dollars are thrown at the hype.

    It’s a team game as much as everyone wants to make it into a star league, and the last 2 champions make that completely clear.
    In the end, Golden State was the best team all year wire to wire. Somebody stepped up every time it was needed on both sides of the floor. Congratulations to the Warriors! This experience will make them even better next year.
    It’s a joy to watch team basketball at every level, and a bore to watch hero ball.

  12. jOLAN says:

    Iggy was no doubt an impact player, but James still almost averaged a triple double on him. There is only so much one person can do, and LeBron did more then any other player could of today. If they are just going to give the award to someone on the winning team, they should probably make that a criteria. LeBron was hands down, they best player on the floor the entire finals. It’s an individual award, GSW was the better team, LeBron was the best player, hands down. If winning means that much to an individuals credibility then no way you can say MJ was better then Bill Russell.

  13. Johan says:

    Liked the Warriors play. They really deserved the NBA championship by their fantastic teamplay, flexbility and their defence. Enjoyed the finals very much from the Netherlands. Can we have a little more of this kind of basketball. Iggy was fantastic and compensated a lot for the Splash brothers.

  14. Lebron says:

    Honestly, Lebron was great but people are overlooking the fact that he shot barely 40% from the field throughout the finals. Thats a lot of missed shots

  15. Wiggins says:

    Just like heat vs dallas, Heat were not suppose to make the finals in the first year. Cavs were not suppose to make the finals .Without leBron they could not make the play-offs in the weak east. I predict Cavs winning the next two Championships in the next two years

  16. Lionel Brown says:

    Right…..LeBron is the best player in the world

    Wrong….LeBron admitting publicly that he is…the best player in the world does not lose 3 consecutive playoff games, 2 of them at home.

  17. José Henrique says:

    LeBron, you’ve never seen a team go to the finals withou two of theis all-stars because you’ve also never seen a team playing in such a weak conference. The east is a joke. The cavs would never survive the playofss if they were playing in the west.

  18. tony says:

    Best player in the world???? common wake up LBJ and RW. The two can win the ball hog of the century. Basketball is the team work game. The Cav is not better than any team from the West. Some how ball hog are arrogant

  19. Benjie says:

    I don’t think you could be an MVP in the finals and at the same time lost the series. If you count the numbers James shot less than 40 percent in the series and failed to deliver in clutch moment . While the under rated Andre iggy shot more than 40 percent in the series and defended the best player in the world to take the championship trophy . Curry could have taken the MVP if he was consistent in all the games in the series . While Andre was consistent in both ends of the floor except for his free throw shooting which is acceptable weekness when you could make up for it in the 3 point area. Shaq was awfull in free throw but still became finals MVP . I would say Andre is not as good scorer like Leonard but he is as good defender as anybody defended LBJ in the past. LBJ your not Michael Jordan 2 out of 6 in the finals that’s bad. And stop making excuses that you loss 2 key player. You also have 2 all star in Miami and loss to the Spurs . So my advise stop ball haggling and try to be consistent in clutch time.

  20. cleveland crying for 51 years says:

    Now let’s hear these faithful cavs fan…. Excuse and more excuses….. Blame this blame that… BLAME the cavs owner, he’s the one who put curse or lebron, Right after he left for MIAMI, He put the curse on him, too bad he didn’t realize that bron might come back… oh well what goes around comes around, The minute bron came back to cleveland so does his curse…

  21. Go Mavs says:

    2 things:

    1. LeBron can’t play 1 on 5. The same as any other basketball player in the world.
    2. Iggy MVP? What was that? That’s like giving it to freakin Dellavedova if Cleveland won.

    These Finals were some of the most disappointing Finals games I have saw. Good thing Kevin Durant and the Thunder have a shot at it next year.

  22. sports fan says:

    RIGHT: not giving LeBron the finals MVP (he would not have accepted it anyway!)
    WRONG: Blatt only using 7 guys & not ever using Miller, Marion, & Perkins off the bench.

  23. Dutch says:

    Gongrats to the warriors!

    They were the best team all season and in the playoffs.
    They deserved it!!

    For the cavs,
    If you miss 3 starters and go to the Nba finals and come to 2-1, is also well done.

    For Lebron,
    Really nice playoff run, you did show the world you are the best player of this era

    For Haters
    WHo say he comes short in late game, if you play 46 minuts a game, and you almost need to do everything
    For your team, its not strange you are a little bit tired in the last minutes of the game.

    Lebron can’t play without rest, same for MJ ore KB.

    Cant wait for next season!

  24. bxn says:

    I agree with Zach. Lebron is getting way too much credit. The self proclaimed best player in the world is really only the best player in the east. This is a team sport. Go to the West on a sub par team and that finals record will probably be more like 0-2 than 2-6.

  25. WARRIORS says:

    I don’t know of any other team that has 3 superstars so im pretty sure it never happened before… so when he lost the other 2 finals with Bosh and Wade i wonder? just say we lost to the better team plain and simple.. no excuses….

  26. Paul says:

    Congratulations Golden State Warriors, I hope that this is only the beginning of a dynasty.

    Warriors~~~ Come out and playay~~!

  27. harriethehawk says:

    I was surprised to wake up and see that Andre won MVP. Thought it would be Steph Curry. Congrats the to the Golden State Warriors. Not flaky now, real champions.

  28. zach says:

    I’m sorry but I think people are giving way too much credit to LeBron…Yeah he had playoff highs in a lot of categories but without any help almost any star of a team is going to exceed previous expectations…And I think he’s giving too much credit to himself saying he thinks he’s the only one to make it to the finals losing 2 all-stars….yeah you lost 2 all-stars but you’re also in the east, beating up sub .500 teams to make the later rounds, and than you lost an all-star(in kyrie)IN the finals, not before. Best player or not, basketball continues to prove it’s a team sport.

  29. Well now everyone will blame coach Blatt, but he is a great coach he just played with a short handed team, is not his fault, cavs will make a big mistake if they fire him! Steve Kerr is not better than Blatt he just was in the right time, right place, thats it!

  30. b7m says:

    So now it’s time to lissen to Cavs/Lebron fans/bandwagoners cry claiming injuries and bad luck. “Best player in the world” Queen James delivered great performance with under 40% shooting and failed clutch time in every game of the FInals. As soon as east is weak again next year Lebron has a good chance to reach 2 of 7.

  31. thePHx says:

    What really went wrong?
    Kyrie and Kevin were unavailable to help LeBron. The other starters or reserves except Timofey were inconsistent,
    There’s always another year. Hope to see a similar scenario like Spurs Miami in 2013 – 2014.

  32. Federer says:

    No disrespect to Iggy, but finals MVP? Are u kidding me? His best game was worse than LeBron’s worst game. This is exactly why media members should never be allowed near these awards, and if the NBPA lanuches it’s own awards, hopefully these stupid media voted awards will lose their value. Gotta be kidding me…

    • Gman says:

      Once Iggy was in the starting lineup, GSW went 3-0. Not to mention, he went from 7 points a game to 20 in the last 3, and had to hold down LBJ. That is value right there.

      • Joe Sterling says:

        But not MVP value! Curry was there every game & got him the open looks & ball. Curry double & Triple teamed. NO COMPARISON!! Curry or even Labron should have won MVP. Iggy’s free throw shooting was horrendous.

  33. Sam-Abel Gbinsay says:

    King James is the real star of these finals