The Golden State Warriors are the 2014-15 NBA champions.

It’s the Bay Area’s first NBA title in 40 years. It just proves good things indeed come to those who wait.

The Warriors won their second NBA crown after they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road, 105-97, in Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals on June 16, per Golden State’s official website.

In a battle of two of the best players in the world, 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry emerged victorious over LeBron James in the end. Curry scored 25 points in the series-clinching victory, per Warriors.com.

It was the Cavaliers who seized the early momentum with a 7-2 run. However, Curry began to wax hot by scoring nine points in a span of a little over four minutes. During that span, Golden State came right back with an 11-1 run of its own, per its official website.

Warriors guard Andre Iguodala missed his first three shots but made three of his next four, including a triple to give his team a 23-15 lead in the final two minutes of the first quarter. The Warriors added five more points to up their lead to 28-15 at the end of the first period, per Warriors.com.

The key to Golden State’s success in the first quarter was pinpoint execution as evidenced by 11 assists on 12 field goals. On the other hand, Cleveland allowed 14 points off nine turnovers, per the Warriors’ official website.

The Cavaliers atoned for their earlier miscues by going on a 6-0 run to open the second quarter. Leandro Barbosa’s three-pointer to halt that run would prove to be the Warriors’ last points in the next four minutes and 42 seconds. At that point, Cleveland whittled Golden State’s lead to 32-27.

The Cavs would rely on their frontcourt of James, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov as the first half was winding down. Thompson’s follow-up dunk with just three second left in the second quarter capped off an 8-2 Cleveland run, per Warriors.com.

Golden State would lead, 45-43, at halftime.

Cleveland would score the first four points of the second half, enjoying its first taste of the lead in quite some time, 47-45.

However, this lead proved to be short-lived as the Warriors went on a 9-0 run to go back up at 54-47. They would limit the Cavs to just four more field goals in the third quarter while Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli would go on an exclusive 8-0 run of his own to give the Dubs another double-digit advantage at 71-58, per Golden State’s official website.

After Barbosa opened up the scoring in the fourth quarter, Cleveland would go on a 7-0 run to inch within seven points with a little over 10 minutes left to play.

After Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called a timeout, the Cavs somehow made all of their next three shots. Unfortunately for them, the Warriors fared even better on offense. Golden State would make five of its next six field goals—including a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from three-point distance—to go up by 14 with less than seven minutes remaining.

After Warriors guard Shaun Livingston made a shot to put his team up by 15 points, James and Co. went on a desperate 15-6 run to trim the deficit to six at 100-94.

However, there was only 37.9 seconds left on the game clock, per Warriors.com. Curry and Iguodala then combined for five free throws as time wound down. Final score: Golden State Warriors 105, Cleveland Cavaliers 97.

Andre Iguodala finished with 25 points on his way to winning not only his first NBA title, but also the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

Draymond Green registered a triple-double for Golden State with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. James narrowly missed another triple-double of his own with 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists for Cleveland. J.R. Smith added 19 points while Mozgov finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, per Warriors.com.

“From the time we started the season, this is what we envisioned,” Curry told SFGate.com’s Rusty Simmons after the game.

James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in what was the best statistical performance by a player in an NBA Finals series. He told The Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Joe Vardon his sentiments on the fourth NBA Finals series loss of his career:

I always look at it, would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in The Finals? I don’t know. I’ve missed the playoffs twice. I lost in The Finals four times.

I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in The Finals. It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it.

Whatever it takes throughout the competition, I’m fine with. I don’t enjoy being as non-efficient as I was. I don’t enjoy that. I don’t enjoy dribbling the ball for countless seconds on the shot clock and the team looking at me to make a play.

We had 14 assists tonight, I had nine of them. I did not enjoy that. That’s not winning basketball.

 

The Parting Shot

It took quite some time, but the Golden State Warriors are NBA champions again.

The last time the Larry O’Brien Trophy was in the Bay Area was when mop-top hairstyles, super short shorts and knee-high socks were the norm. Forty years ago, the Warriors had the likes of Rick Barry, Clifford Ray, Butch Beard and Jamaal Wilkes.

Now, they have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to lean on for the foreseeable future.

The two key Dubs players who will become free agents this offseason are Leandro Barbosa and Draymond Green. It’s not hard for Golden State general manager Bob Myers to lock these two up to contract extensions. If he wants to win more NBA titles, he has to.

It was a season to remember for Curry, who is now not just the 2014-15 NBA MVP and the league’s best shooter. He can also add “2015 NBA champion” to his resume.

As for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, there was no doubt he made the right choice in choosing Golden State over the New York Knicks. Not only did he win his first NBA title as a head coach in his rookie year, he also won it in his own backyard with his family by his side.

It certainly doesn’t get any better than that.

And let’s not forget the fans—the fans who waited so patiently for another shot at redemption. This is a Warriors franchise that did not qualify for the playoffs for nine straight seasons during the late 70s and early 80s. The team also missed 17 out of an 18 possible trips to the postseason several years later.

And now the Golden State Warriors are NBA champions. Patience is really the key.

As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was a painful end to a great season. Remember, the Cavs missed the playoffs during the four years LeBron James was wining NBA titles with the Miami Heat.

You have to feel bad for James. He returned to his home state hoping to win his third NBA crown and the Cavaliers’ first-ever. Now, Cleveland’s 41-year streak of not winning a pro sports title continues.

The Cleveland Browns, who won the NFL Championship in 1964, have the distinction of winning the city’s last pro sports championship. Clevelanders can only hope LBJ and Co. can bring them to the Promised Land next year.

This year’s Cavaliers team has nothing to be ashamed of. Even without stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, they fought the Warriors tooth and nail. Cleveland head coach David Blatt has the players to make another run at the NBA title in 2016.

The Cavs just have to be healthier next season. Their loss to the Dubs proves once and for all LeBron James can’t win a championship on his own. It has to be a complete team effort.

In the end, the Golden State Warriors were simply the better team.

 

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all stats are current as of June 17 and are courtesy of ESPN.com while all salary information is provided by HoopsHype.com.   

 

 

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