2015 NBA Finals

2015 NBA Finals
The NBA Finals logo.svg
The wordmark of the NBA Finals (2003–2017)
TeamCoachWins
Golden State WarriorsSteve Kerr4
Cleveland CavaliersDavid Blatt2
DatesJune 4–16
MVPAndre Iguodala
(Golden State Warriors)
Eastern FinalsCavaliers defeated Hawks, 4–0
Western FinalsWarriors defeated Rockets, 4–1
NBA Finals

The 2015 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 2014–15 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors defeated the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers in six games (4–2) for the Warriors' first title in 40 years and their fourth in franchise history, becoming the first team since the 1990–91 Chicago Bulls to win a championship without any prior Finals experience from any player on their roster. Golden State's Andre Iguodala was named the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).

The Warriors were led by 2014–15 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Stephen Curry, while the Cavaliers featured four-time league MVP LeBron James. Both teams entered the series with title droughts of four decades, with the Cavaliers having never won a title since their 1970–71 inception and the Warriors' last title having been in 1975.[1] This was also the first time that both participating teams had first-year head coaches since the inaugural league finals in 1947, when the NBA was known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA).[2] It was the fifth consecutive finals appearance for James who played for the Miami Heat the previous four seasons,[3] making him the first NBA player since the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1960s to achieve this accomplishment.

James also became the first player in NBA Finals history to lead both teams in points, assists, and rebounds for the entire series. He averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists for the series, although he shot 39.8% throughout the series.[4][5] Kevin Love missed the entire series due to an injury, and Kyrie Irving missed the final five games of the series due to an injury in Game 1. For the second straight year, the Finals was played in the 2–2–1–1–1 format (Games 1, 2, and 5 were at Golden State, games 3, 4, and 6 were at Cleveland. Had it been necessary, Game 7 would have been held at Golden State). The series began on June 4, 2015, ending on June 16. In the United States, it was televised on ABC and in Canada on TSN.

Background

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers entered the 2014–15 season after firing Mike Brown and replacing him with David Blatt as head coach, signing free agent forward LeBron James, and trading for forward Kevin Love. James previously played for Cleveland from 2003 to 2010, leading the Cavaliers to their only previous Finals appearance in 2007. James then played for the Miami Heat from 2010 to 2014, leading the Heat to two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013. During the 2014 NBA draft on June 26, 2014, Cleveland held the first overall pick and used it to select Andrew Wiggins. Later on August 23, a three-team trade was completed involving the Cavaliers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Philadelphia 76ers. As part of the deal, Cleveland dealt Wiggins and Anthony Bennett and received Love.[6]

James, Love, and guard Kyrie Irving became known as the Big Three.[7] The Cavaliers got off to a shockingly bad start that led to intense media scrutiny and caused many to question Blatt's job security, going 19–20 in their first 39 games, which included a stretch where they were 2–10 in 12 games, starting with a December 25 road loss to Miami. Injuries to James and "chemistry issues," with James "still learning how to play with his new teammates and vice versa,"[8] were considered the primary reasons for the underwhelming start. A number of trades turned the season around. The Cavaliers acquired J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks in exchange for draft picks while sending Dion Waiters to the Thunder. They then acquired Timofey Mozgov. James's return to the Cavaliers' lineup (following a 2-week layoff) on January 12 completed the turnaround. The Cavaliers closed out the season on a high note, going 34–9 for a 53–29 regular season record and the Central Division title, the second best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavaliers advanced to the Finals after sweeping the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, defeating the Chicago Bulls in six games during the second round, and sweeping the Hawks in the conference finals.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors entered the 2014–15 season after replacing Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr as head coach. This was Kerr's first ever head coaching job. After retiring as a player in 2003, he served as a broadcast analyst from 2003 to 2007 and 2010 to 2014, and as general manager of the Phoenix Suns from 2007 to 2010. Revamping Golden State's offense, Kerr employed elements of the triangle offense from his playing days with the Chicago Bulls under Phil Jackson, the spacing and pace of Gregg Popovich from his playing days in San Antonio with the Spurs, and the uptempo principles Alvin Gentry used in Phoenix when Kerr was the GM.[9]

In Kerr's first year, the Warriors finished with the best regular season record at 67–15, including an incredible 39–2 in home games. Kerr became the winningest rookie head coach in NBA history, passing Tom Thibodeau and his 62 wins with the Chicago Bulls in 2010–11.[10] Point guard Stephen Curry set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a regular season with 286, eclipsing his own record set in 2012–13.[11] Curry also won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for the 2014–15 season.[12] He and fellow guard Klay Thompson, known as the Splash Brothers, finished first and second in the league in three-pointers made, respectively, and combined to make 525 threes, surpassing their previous league record for a duo by 41, while also converting an impressive 44% of those shots.[13][14][15] During the season, the backcourt mates both started in the NBA All-Star Game and were each named to the All-NBA team, the first time in decades that either has been achieved by guards on the same team.[16][17] Golden State advanced to the Finals after sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games during the second round, and eliminating the Houston Rockets in five games in the conference finals.

Road to the Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers (Eastern Conference champion) Golden State Warriors (Western Conference champion)
Eastern Conference
# Team W L PCT GB GP
1 c-Atlanta Hawks * 60 22 .732 82
2 y-Cleveland Cavaliers * 53 29 .646 7.0 82
3 x-Chicago Bulls 50 32 .610 10.0 82
4 y-Toronto Raptors * 49 33 .598 11.0 82
5 x-Washington Wizards 46 36 .561 14.0 82
6 x-Milwaukee Bucks 41 41 .500 19.0 82
7 x-Boston Celtics 40 42 .488 20.0 82
8 x-Brooklyn Nets 38 44 .463 22.0 82
9 Indiana Pacers 38 44 .463 22.0 82
10 Miami Heat 37 45 .451 23.0 82
11 Charlotte Hornets 33 49 .402 27.0 82
12 Detroit Pistons 32 50 .390 28.0 82
13 Orlando Magic 25 57 .305 35.0 82
14 Philadelphia 76ers 18 64 .220 42.0 82
15 New York Knicks 17 65 .207 43.0 82
2nd seed in the East, 7th best league record
Regular season
Western Conference
# Team W L PCT GB GP
1 z-Golden State Warriors * 67 15 .817 82
2 y-Houston Rockets * 56 26 .683 11.0 82
3 x-Los Angeles Clippers 56 26 .683 11.0 82
4 y-Portland Trail Blazers * 51 31 .622 16.0 82
5 x-Memphis Grizzlies 55 27 .671 12.0 82
6 x-San Antonio Spurs 55 27 .671 12.0 82
7 x-Dallas Mavericks 50 32 .610 17.0 82
8 x-New Orleans Pelicans 45 37 .549 22.0 82
9 Oklahoma City Thunder 45 37 .549 22.0 82
10 Phoenix Suns 39 43 .476 28.0 82
11 Utah Jazz 38 44 .463 29.0 82
12 Denver Nuggets 30 52 .366 37.0 82
13 Sacramento Kings 29 53 .354 38.0 82
14 Los Angeles Lakers 21 61 .256 46.0 82
15 Minnesota Timberwolves 16 66 .195 51.0 82
1st seed in the West, best league record
Defeated the 7th seeded Boston Celtics, 4–0 First round Defeated the 8th seeded New Orleans Pelicans, 4–0
Defeated the 3rd seeded Chicago Bulls, 4–2 Conference Semifinals Defeated the 5th seeded Memphis Grizzlies, 4–2
Defeated the 1st seeded Atlanta Hawks, 4–0 Conference Finals Defeated the 2nd seeded Houston Rockets, 4–1

Regular season series

The Cavaliers and Warriors tied the regular season series 1–1, with each team winning its home game.