By Ron Griffitts
In early summer of 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) coached by David Blatt and with executive David Griffin met the Golden State Warriors (67-15) coached by former Bulls’ player Steve Kerr and had as their executive Bob Myers.
David Blatt was recruited from the international coaching ranks and Cleveland had been energized by the return of LeBron James, who prior to the season had signed a four year contract with the Cavaliers, determined to bring them an NBA title.
The Cavaliers got past the Boston Celtics (4-0), the Chicago Bulls (4-2) and Atlanta Hawks (4-0) in the eastern conference finals for the right to play the Warriors.
Cleveland was led by LeBron James (25.3 ppg, 7.4 apg, 6.0 rpg), Kyrie Irving (21.7 ppg, 5.2 apg), Kevin Love ((16.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg), J. R. Smith (12.7 ppg), Tristan Thompson (8.0 rpg), Timofey Mozgov (10.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Anderson Varejao (6.5 rpg).
The Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans (4-0), Memphis Grizzlies (4-2) and the Houston Rockets (4-1) in the western conference finals for the right to play in the finals.
They were led by one of the best three point players in NBA history, Stephen Curry (23.8 ppg, 7.7 apg), Klay Thompson (21.7 ppg), Draymond Green (11.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Harrison Barnes ((10.1 ppg), Andrew Bogut (8.1 ppg), Marreese Speights (10.4 ppg) and David Lee (5.2 rpg).
Game one was in Oracle Arena in Oakland, California and was a close game that was tied 98-98 after regulation. But with the help of 4 Steph Curry overtime points, the Warriors outscored the Cavs 10-2 and won 108-100.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 26 points and 8 assists while Klay Thompson added 21 points. LeBron James led Cleveland with 44 points, Kyrie Irving added 23 and Tristan Thompson pulled down 15 rebounds.
The Cavaliers suffered a setback in game one as Kyrie Irving was injured late in the game and was out for the series. But the team rallied behind LeBron James’ 39 points, 11 assists and 16 rebounds for a 95-93 win in the second overtime game of the series to tie the series 1-1.
Klay Thompson had 34 points and Draymond Green 10 rebounds for the Warriors while Tristan Thompson had 14 rebounds for Cleveland.
For game three, the teams moved to Quickens Loan Arena in Cleveland as the Cavaliers took a seventeen point lead into the fourth quarter in which they were outscored 36-24 but won 96-91 to take a 2-1 series lead.
LeBron James again led Cleveland with 40 points, 8 assists and 12 rebounds while Matthew Dellavedova added 20 points and Tristan Thompson 13 rebounds.
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 27 points.
In game four, the Warriors controlled the game for a 103-82 win to tie the series at two games each. Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala had 22 points each for Golden State while LeBron James had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Timofey Mozgov 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cavs.
With the series even at two games each, Golden State outplayed Cleveland in the second half of game five to go on to a 104-91 win and 3-2 series lead.
Stephen Curry had 37 points while LeBron led the Cavs with 40 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds.
In another tightly contested contest in game six, the Warriors pulled out a 105-97 win in the game and in the series. Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry scored 25 points each to lead the Warriors with Iguodala getting the series MVP award.
LeBron led Cleveland with 32 points, 9 assists and 18 rebounds, Tristan Thompson had 13 rebounds, and Timofey Mozgov had 12 rebounds and 17 points.
For the Cavs, the loss of Kyrie Irving after game one and Kevin Love earlier in the playoffs proved to be too much for them to defeat the talented Warriors.
Both Cleveland and Golden State were back the next year in the finals.
Statistics for this article were from basketball-reference.com.