The Cleveland Cavaliers reached the finals defeating the Boston Celtics 4-0 in the first round, the Chicago Bulls 4-2 in the Conference semifinals and the Atlanta Hawks 4-0 in the Conference finals. These are their first NBA Finals after those lost in 2007.
The Golden State Warriors reached the finals defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 4-0 in the first round, the Memphis Grizzlies 4-2 in the Conference semifinals and the Houston Rockets 4-1 in the Conference finals. These are their first NBA Finals after those won in 1975.
Game 1. Oakland, June 4, 2015. After a slow and balanced start, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the first to have a significant lead thanks to the points scored by LeBron James and J.R. Smith and the superiority at the rebounds reaching even the 26-13. The Golden State Warriors try to react and the first quarter ends 29-19 for the visitors. In the second quarter the difference is made especially by Warriors’ bench players. Barbosa, Iguodala and Speights allow their team to come back and take the lead when Stephen Curry starts scoring as well. It’s only thanks to Shumpert that at halftime the lead for the home team is only 51-48. In the third quarter, James and Kyrie Irving give a new lead to the Cavaliers, who arrive on 59-52. The game becomes very balanced with only small leads and the third quarter ends 73-73. In the fourth quarter, LBJ tries to take control but the Warriors fight back with scorings by various players. The ending is very intense but in the end there’s a 98-98 tie. In overtime, it’s especially Curry who finds the clarity needed to score while James has bad shots. Irving is forced to go back to the locker room because of an injury and unfortunately he’ll be diagnosed a broken kneecap that cuts him off from the finals. With the Cavaliers unable to score, the Warriors dominate to win Game 1 108-100 to go 1-0 in the finals.
Game 2. Oakland, June 7, 2015. As in Game 1, the start is slow and balanced, but this time the Golden State Warriors are the first to take a advantage on up to 20-12, especially thanks to Klay Thompson. The Cleveland Cavaliers react with a 8-0 run and the first quarter ends on 20-20. The second quarter is in some ways a duel between Thompson and LeBron James and the Cavaliers theach their top lead on 40-33. Stephen Curry started the game badly but can be of help but at the end of the first half the Cavaliers still have a slight lead on 47-45. In the third quarter the tension is great and there are few scorings. The visiting team retains a lead at the end of the third quarter on 62-59. In the fourth quarter the Cavaliers seem to be able to take control of the game thanks to the surprising Dellavedova, who limits Curry. The guest players reach the top lead on 83-72 with just over 3 minutes left. The Warriors, however, score some points and take advantage of some mistakes by the Cavaliers and regulations end up in a tie again on 87-87. But this time in overtime the Cavaliers score starting it with a 5-0 run. The home team come back and even takes the lead in the last minute but Dellavedova and LeBron James, who ends the game with a triple-double, score the free throws that give the Cavaliers a 95-93 win to tie the finals on 1-1.
Game 3. Cleveland, June 9, 2015. The beginning is much better for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have sconrings by various players while the Golden State Warriors have poor results with shots often rushed. The host players take the first good lead on 12-5 but the visitors start scoring and the first quarter ends with a little lead for the Cavaliers on 24-20. The second quarter is balanced with Cleveland trying to expand its lead and Golden State always keeping close. The first half ends with the Cavaliers ahead on 44-37. In the third quarter, Cleveland increases its lead with the Warriors who seem to really struggle. The home players reach a 51-41 lead, after a few minutes they even reach 61-48 up to 68-48. Stephen Curry seems to finally be able to score and the third quarter ends with Cleveland firmly in command on 72-55. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors wake up and start coming back point after point and the game returns to be serious when they get dangerously close to their opponents. In the last minutes, Golden State almost ties on 81-80 but Dellavedova and LeBron James, who ends with 40 points, are the protagonists of the last Cavaliers‘ effort to win Game 3 96-91 to take a 2-1 lead in the finals.
Game 4. Cleveland. June 11, 2015. The Golden State Warriors start with Iguodala with Green as a center but at least at the beginning coach Steve Kerr’s move doesn’t work because the Cleveland Cavaliers start the game with a 7-0 run. The visitors, however, start scoring, get close and after nearly eight minutes of the game reach the 20-20. The trend continues and the Warriors finish the first quarter ahead 31-24. In the second quarter, the visitors’ lead increases to 48-33 with the Cavaliers who seem to really struggle and for them it’s good that at the end of the first half to be trailing 54-42. In the third quarter, the home players seem much more eager to fight and come back almost closing the gap on 65-62. The Warriors resist and end the third quarter with a 76-70 lead. The beginning of the fourth quarter is again in favor of the visitors, whi increase their lead again. The Cavaliers don’t seem to have the energy to fight and the last few minutes are “garbage time”. The final score is 103-82 for the Warriors, who tie the finals again on 2-2.
Game 5. Oakland. June 14, 2015. The start is good for the Golden State Warriors, who reach a 8-2 lead but J.R. Smith tries to atone for the bad game 4 and answers with two triples. The first quarter become balanced and for the visitors a surprising Draymond Green scores 10 points to end it on 22-22. In the second quarter, Smith keeps on scoring but LeBron James is a factor for the Cleveland Cavaliers and on the other side Stephen Curry answers scoring as well. The result is that the first half ends with a Warriors 51-50 lead. In the third quarter, the home players seem to have something more than the Cavaliers, who shoot bad and remain in contact only because they can stop their opponents’ fastbreak. The third quarter ends with the Warriors leading 73-67. In the fourth quarter LeBron James tries again to close the gap and almost does it almost single-handedly keeping the Cavaliers in contact for several minutes. Scoring by various home players but above all the 17 points in the quarter by Curry for a total of 37 in the game determine a new run with a lead that gets extended until the final 104-91 giving the Warriors the 3-2 lead in the finals.
Game 6. Cleveland. June 16, 2015. The beginning is slow for both teams but after a few minutes the Golden State Warriors start taking a lead, in particular thanks to Andre Iguodala. The first quarter ends 28-15 for the visitors. In the second quarter the Cleveland Cavaliers react, also thanks to a great job by Mozgov in the paint. Iguodala’s third foul slows down the Warriors and the home players come back very close so the first half ends with a minimal teald on 45-43 for the visitors. Early in the third quarter the Cavaliers even manage to take the lead on 47-46 but it’s a moment because the Warriors start scoring again with Iguodala but also other players so they take another lead. LeBron James tries to lead his team to another reaction but the visitors end the third quarter leading by 73-61. In the fourth quarter the Cavaliers try everything to come back but especially thanks to Curry and Iguodala, who both end with 25 points, the visitors keep their lead. Two triples by J.R. Smith give the last hope to the Cavaliers, who get close on the 101-97 but Curry and Iguodala score the final points to give the Warriors a 105-97 victory that gives them the 4-2 in the series which mean winning the NBA title 2015.
In a season marked by injuries, it’s certainly possible that the victory in the finals was influenced by them. David Blatt had to coach a team that lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, however, he found a heroic Dellavedova who did amazing things against Stephen Curry. Blatt received much criticism but that’s part of the game and it’s possible that he hasn’t enough credibility in the NBA so he’s treated hashly.
LeBron James played an incredible final series leading the Cleveland Cavaliers in points but also in rebounds and in assists. Had he cleaned the floor at the end of each game he’d have done everything! He’s understandably disappointed for the defeat and there are people who think that he’ll leave Cleveland again. All in all, he’d only need to have healthy teammates to have a better chance of winning another NBA title.
The Golden State Warriors had won an NBA title in 1975, practically another geological era. In this season they proved to be an excellent team from the start of the regular season. Stephen Curry was their leader but the surprise of having Andre Iguodala as MVP of the NBA Finals shows the importance not only of points scored but also the hard defensive work against LeBron James.
For the Golden State Warriors this is a great victory that represents the culmination of years of work by players and management with continuous improvements. Now the team has learned to win and this is a crucial element, so in the coming seasons I think all the teams that will try to win the NBA title will have to deal with them.