Tag: Cleveland Cavaliers

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

J.R. Smith mourns NBA Finals loss with a Coors Light and PhunkeeDuck ride


Everyone handles losing in their own way.

LeBron James is fantasizing about having missed the playoffs entirely.

J.R. Smith is wheeling around on a really fun-looking machine (a PhunkeeDuck) with the saddest look on his face:

Unfortunately, this video didn’t show the full absurdity of the situation:

You do you, J.R.

LeBron James unsure whether he’d rather lose NBA Finals or miss playoffs entirely


LeBron James had an all-time great NBA Finals.

But his Cavaliers still lost, dropping him to 2-4 in the Finals.

LeBron compared that heartache to his first two seasons in the NBA, when Cleveland missed the playoffs entirely.


I always look at it, would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in the Finals?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I’ve missed the playoffs twice. I’ve lost in the Finals four times. I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not make the playoffs than to lose in the Finals. I would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs, not even have a shot at it.

But then I lock back in, and I’ll start thinking about how fun it is to compete in the playoffs – in the first round, in the second round and Eastern Conference finals. And then if I’m lucky enough to get here again, it’d be fun to do it.

But I put my body through a lot. There’s a price for your body feeling this way for winning. Did I win? I didn’t win a championship, but I’ve done a lot of good things in this first year back, and hopefully, I can continue it.

Guys, I think the Warriors broke LeBron.

He tries to summon a little fire late in his answer, but that was preceded by way too much consideration for just missing the playoffs. It’s jarring to hear a competitor like LeBron talk this way.

Sure, missing the postseason might hurt less. But you don’t play to hurt less. You play to win a championship, and that’s possible only by making the playoffs.

I expect LeBron to come out of this funk, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it extends into next season. I can’t remember him seeming so despondent with the possible exception of 2010, when he seemed to leave Cleveland mentally before he did in free agency later in the summer.

This time, he – probably – won’t have the luxury of changing teams to clear his mind.

Watch Andre Iguodala rack up points in Game 6 on way to winning Finals MVP


Andre Iguodala was named Finals MVP in large part because he did as good a job as anyone was going to when asked to slow down LeBron James.

I’ve been preparing for the moment for 11 years now,” Iguodala said of defending LeBron (who still put up historic numbers). “I’ve seen him every year I’ve been in this league.  LeBron doesn’t have any weaknesses, or he doesn’t have a glaring weakness.  So you’ve got to pick up on the smaller things to try to make him uncomfortable.  Like knowing which side he likes to shoot threes off the dribble, which side he likes to drive.  One side he’ll drive left more often, and the other side he’ll drive right more often.”

More than just the defense, Iguodala got the hardware for his offense. When the Warriors went small the reason was to expose Cavaliers’ center Timofey Mozgov defensively, and you can see in this highlight package how Iguodala did that. Mozgov wants to hang back and protect the rim, and when Draymond Green or other Warriors drove right at him Mozgov did his job well. But if you can knock down threes, or even nice 18 footers, he will give those to you rather than come out. And when he does come out to cover more on the perimeter, the lane opens up.

Iguodala rightfully fully enjoyed the celebration after the game. He had earned it.

Challenges of Memphis series primed Golden State for Finals comeback, win


They had been there before.

They had been down 2-1 to a grinding team who had a defender  opposing fans thought was their “Curry stopper.” The Golden State Warriors had been pounded inside before in these playoffs. They had heard the “jump shooting teams can’t win in the playoffs” before.

Golden State had heard all of that against Memphis — and they made a key adjustment and rattled off three straight wins.

That helped prepare them for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA Finals — where the Warriors again made an adjustment and rattled off three convincing wins.

“Going into the playoffs and playing a Memphis, where that’s a tough team to beat.  All that stuff primed us for this moment,” Draymond Green said drenched in Champaign after the Warriors had completed their comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers and won an NBA title. “It primed us for our non-shooters to make shots.  It primed us for somebody to think they can stop Steph Curry and then all of a sudden you see Steph Curry.  It primed us for we’re too small, we’re a jump shooting team, it will never work.  It primed us for all of that.

“So playing in the Western Conference on the daily, nightly basis, night to night, it gets you ready for everything.  That’s why I think it’s the best conference in the NBA because you see all brands of basketball.  So all of a sudden you run up against the Cavs and, I mean, LeBron James is great.  There is no one like him.  But you’re prepared for everything else because we’ve seen everything.”

Against Memphis in the second round, the adjustment was to ask big man Andrew Bogut to defend light-shooting guard Tony Allen. That allowed Bogut to hang back and protect the rim, helping out on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and not pay a price.

Against Cleveland, there were a few adjustments but the key one was to sit Bogut and start Andre Iguodala — to go small. Bogut barely played the final few games, and more offensive bigs like David Lee got key minutes and run. The shorthanded Cavaliers could not adjust.

“Game 3 of The Finals we figured something out in the fourth quarter, and we decided to go small,” Lee said after the win. “On any other team, a guy like Andrew Bogut is angry and causes a fit.  Instead, he’s the first one up cheering off the bench.  So everybody has had their time to shine this year and that kind of sacrifice is how you win championships, and we were able to bring it home.”

The Warriors players to a man praised the chemistry on the team.

“That’s one thing you don’t see that often in the league,” Iguodala said in an interview on NBA TV. “You got stars and guys who want to be stars. Guys are ‘me, me, me, I want to get paid. I want to be a superstar. I want to have my own shoe.’ But we got just a great group of guys. Management did a great job, I don’t know if they knew personalities and how to match them, it’s crazy because we all really like each other. 

“Teams say that all the time but you know guys don’t really like each other that much. You have three or four cliques — they hang out, they hang out, they hang out. But we had like 10 guys go to dinner, eight guys go to the movies. We had like seven guys go to the movies last night. We all can joke with each other, we throw punches each other and nobody takes it personal.”

In the end, the roster that shot too many jump shots was able to make the adjustments and win the NBA title. Coach Steve Kerr said he knew they could because of what they did on the other end of the court.

“Everyone wanted to talk about how many threes we took.  We’re the number one defensive team in the league, and that’s what wins,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be able to score points somehow, but you have to be good defensively.  You have to be great defensively to win a title. For whatever reason, that seemed to be overlooked this year.  But the combination of the offense and the defense, that matters, and I don’t think people pointed that out enough.”

They should now.

LeBron James becomes first player to lead NBA Finals in points, rebounds and assists


Andre Iguodala – fittingly, though not deservedlywon NBA Finals MVP.

Iguodala had an impressive series, the culmination of a stellar and unselfish season. This is no knock on him.

But he doesn’t hold a candle to LeBron James’ production.

The Cavaliers forward became the first player to lead a Finals in points, rebounds and assists – averaging 35.8, 13.3 and 8.8 per game.

Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise LeBron broke that barrier. Nobody had come closer than him in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat.

In 2012, LeBron led the series against the Thunder in rebounds and assists but finished second in points to Kevin Durant. In 2013, LeBron led the series against the Spurs in points and assists but finished third in rebounds to Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard.

To measure how close a player came to leading the Finals in all three major stats, we’ll add the percentage of the leader in each per-game category. So, if a player led the series in a stat, it’s 100%. If he had 30 points per game to the leader’s 40 points per game, that’s 75%. Add the percentage for each category, so a perfect score is 300%.

Before his 300% this year, LeBron had 293% in 2012 and 290% in 2013.

In the years Basketball-Reference.com has Finals data for all three stats (1952, 1955-1958, 1960-2015), 18 players have cracked 250%. Here’s each with the player’s stats/leader’s stats (rank in the series):


Player Points Rebounds Assists Total
LeBron James (2015 CLE) 35.8/35.8 (1) 100% 13.3/13.3 (1) 100% 8.8/8.8 (1) 100% 300%
LeBron James (2012 MIA) 28.6/30.6 (2) 93% 10.2/10.2 (1) 100% 7.4/7.4 (1) 100% 293%
LeBron James (2013 MIA) 25.3/25.3 (1) 100% 10.9/12.1 (3) 90% 7/7 (1) 100% 290%
Magic Johnson (1987 LAL) 26.2/26.2 (1) 100% 8/10 (3) 80% 13/13 (1) 100% 280%
Larry Bird (1986 BOS) 24/25.8 (3) 93% 9.7/11.8 (2) 82% 9.5/9.5 (1) 100% 275%
Shaquille O’Neal (2001 LAL) 33/35.6 (2) 93% 15.8/15.8 (1) 100% 4.8/6 (4) 80% 273%
Tim Duncan (2003 SAS) 24.2/24.2 (1) 100% 17/17 (1) 100% 5.3/7.8 (2) 68% 268%
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1974 MIL) 32.6/32.6 (1) 100% 12.1/12.1 (1) 100% 5.4/8.3 (3) 65% 265%
Shaquille O’Neal (1995 ORL) 28/32.8 (2) 85% 12.5/12.5 (1) 100% 6.3/8 (3) 79% 264%
Larry Bird (1981 BOS) 15.3/22.2 (3) 69% 15.3/16.3 (2) 94% 7/7 (1) 100% 263%
Michael Jordan (1991 CHI) 31.2/31.2 (1) 100% 6.6/9.4 (6) 70% 11.4/12.4 (2) 92% 262%
Bill Walton (1977 POR) 18.5/30.3 (4) 61% 19/19 (1) 100% 5.2/5.2 (1) 100% 261%
Hakeem Olajuwon (1995 HOU) 32.8/32.8 (1) 100% 11.5/12.5 (3) 92% 5.5/8 (4) 69% 261%
Magic Johnson (1988 LAL) 21.1/22 (3) 96% 5.7/8.9 (6) 64% 13/13 (1) 100% 260%
Scottie Pippen (1992 CHI) 20.8/35.8 (3) 58% 8.3/8.7 (2) 95% 7.7/7.7 (1) 100% 254%
Dwyane Wade (2006 MIA) 34.7/34.7 (1) 100% 7.8/10.8 (5) 72% 3.8/4.7 (2) 81% 253%
George Mikan (1952 MNL) 21.7/21.7 (1) 100% 17.4/17.4(1) 100% 2.4/4.7 (5) 51% 251%
LeBron James (2007 CLE) 22/24.5 (2) 90% 7/11.5 (4) 61% 6.8/6.8 (1) 100% 251%

Of those 18 players, 14 won titles. LeBron in 2015 and 2007, Abdul-Jabbar in 1974 and Shaq in 1995 did not.