That’s what it took to take the crown in 2015’s version of the NBA season. The Golden State Warriors took the title for the first time since 1975 after winning 67 games in the regular season. They cruised through the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round, sweeping Anthony Davis and crew out of the playoffs. Golden State hit a small snag in the second round against the Grizzlies but quickly righted the ship, winning three-straight and the series in six games which was followed by a dominating performance over the Houston Rockets in five games in the Western Conference Finals.
And then the storybook series began. Less than 12 months after returning to his home city, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers came into Oakland looking to make cap their incredible story on the right note, and ruin Golden State’s run. LBJ did everything he possibly could in this series, posting possibly the best numbers of any player on the losing side in Finals history: averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists with two triple-doubles over the six-game series. He carried the Cavs to a two games to one lead, putting the Warriors in a similar situation as when they played the Grizzlies in the second round. Frankly, given the situation, the Cavs had to eventually run out of steam but LeBron left everything on court putting himself into the Finals MVP conversation. While Steph Curry stepped up big in games four, five, and six, including a MONSTER Game Five, the X-Factor came from the Finals MVP. Andre Iguodala was inserted into the starting lineup in Game Four and took over. He averaged over 20 points in the final three games, shooting 47.8% from the field and 40.9% from three-point-land as the Warriors went with the small, jump-shooting lineup, making Cavs coach David Blatt change his strategies left and right. The Warriors won the final three games of the series, wins 81, 82, and 83, the third team to ever win at least 83 games in a single season. Who are the other two? The 1995-96 and 1996-97 Chicago Bulls-not a bad group of teams right? Do you know the common name between all three teams? Not Michael Jordan, Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. Kerr becomes the fourth person (and first non-Boston Celtic) to win a title as a head coach after winning at least five as a player (three with Chicago and two with San Antonio; Sidenote: He is also one of two players to win two-straight titles with two different teams), he also became the first since rookie head coach to win the title since Pat Reily.
It’s fantastic to see the Warriors win this title. While it would have been great to see Cleveland win something, this is just perfect. I love seeing Steph get his title, and I especially love seeing Iggy FINALLY win one after all his time with the Sixers. Seeing two great former-Philadelphia players win championships in the last two days (Kimmo Timmonen with the Blackhawks) has been fantastic for me. We’re seeing a new style explode it’s way through the game and it’ll be interesting to see who adopts this style and who will continue to oppose it. I’m sure Charles Barkley probably still believes jump-shooting teams can’t win championships, but I’m excited.
Speaking of Charles Barkley, with the Warriors win, I won the NBA Bracketology Group: the “Charles Barkley Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good.” While me winning shouldn’t surprise, I solidified my nickname, “The Knowledge,” by correctly picking 8 of the 11 series in the playoffs including the Warriors defeating the Cavs in six games; “The Knowledge,” indeed. Longtime readers know Matty D is the NBA specialist and aside from my “Alumni Watch” series (which will be returning next season after high demand), the NBA would be my fourth-best of the four major sports in the USA. It just goes to show that you don’t get a nickname from Matty D by being a scrub, I am the Knowledge. In the immortal words of Ryen Russilo:
Afterthought: Iggy apparently yelled at Steph when they won “We’re going to Augusta!” I need to be in that group, they’d be a blast to play a round of golf with.