The Cleveland Cavaliers changed tactics again, attacking small-ball Golden State Warriors lineups with size, but got the same result in Game 6 of the NBA Finals as in the previous two games: Within two points at the half, they wore down as the game went on, and lost 105-97.
Forward Andre Iguodala had 25 points for the Warriors, while guard Stephen Curry added 25 points and eight assists. Draymond Green, giving up six inches and 20 pounds against the Cavaliers’ Timofey Mozgov while playing out of position at center, had a triple-double, with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Mozgov had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, while LeBron James added another absurd line to his dominant series, scoring 32 points while grabbing 18 rebounds and giving out 9 assists.
James ended the series with per-game averages of 36 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists — and an unheard-of 46 minutes. While his shooting percentages weren’t stellar, Cleveland had few other options — no other Cavalier averaged more than 14 points per game.
Losing starting point guard Kyrie Irving in Game 1 left the Cavaliers with virtually no depth, and while they gutted out wins in the next two games with physical defense and an all-LeBron offense, the workload wasn’t sustainable. Matthew Dellavedova, an emergency Irving replacement whose energetic play in the two Cavaliers wins took the Warriors by surprise, scored one point in 25 minutes on the floor.
It’s a painful loss for Cleveland sports fans, who haven’t been able to celebrate a title in professional football, baseball or basketball since 1964.
For the Warriors, the championship follows a regular season in which the team sprinted past the rest of the league to a record of 67-15, seven more wins than any other team. It’s Golden State’s first title since 1975, and fourth overall, with the team winning in 1947 and 1956 when it still was located in Philadelphia.
“We knew if we keep grinding and grinding it out, we’re going to win games,” Iguodala said after the game. “That’s what we did all year.”
The forward, who didn’t start a game for the Warriors this season until the penultimate game of the Finals, was named Most Valuable Player of the series.
Steve Kerr became the seventh coach to win an NBA title in his first season with a team.