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Golden State Warriors

This Date in NBA History (June 16): Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 Finals & more

2015 NBA Champions - Golden State Warriors
(NBA Getty Images)

On June 16th in 2015, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch their fourth championship in franchise history and the first since 1975.

The three biggest stars for the Warriors in this clincher were Stephen Curry (25 points, 8 assists), Draymond Green (16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals), and Andre Iguodala (25 points).

For the Cavaliers, LeBron James' herculean effort went in vain, not just in the game but for the series. In Game 6, he finished with 32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists while averaging a near triple-double for the series - 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists in 45.7 minutes.

Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr became the seventh first-time head coach to win an NBA title. Having won five titles as a player in his 15-year NBA career, Kerr became the 13th head coach in NBA history to have also won championships as a player.

Iguodala, who came off the bench in 95 of the 98 games played in the 2014-15 season (regular-season + playoffs), was named Finals MVP with averages of 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. He became the first Finals MVP to have not started a single game in the regular season. He was also the first Finals MVP ever to have not started every game of the championship series.

In the three games he started (Games 4, 5 & 6), he averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 39.4 minutes. Whereas, in the first three games of the series, he averaged just 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 34.8 minutes.

His insertion into the starting line-up helped the Warriors change the tempo of the game and pull off three straight wins. The first three wins of the series, the games were decided by an average margin of five points, however, the last three games were decided by an average margin of 14.0 points.

Outside of signing Iguodala as a free-agent in 2013, the franchise constructed nearly all of this championship roster through trades and draft picks.

Five of nine players that averaged double-digit minutes in the Finals were draft picks - Curry (7th overall, 2009 Draft), Klay Thompson (11th overall, 2011 Draft), Harrison Barnes (7th overall, 2012 Draft), Green (35th overall, 2012 Draft), Festus Ezeli (30th overall, 2012 Draft). The veterans aged 30+ were either traded for at the beginning of the construction of this squad (Andrew Bogut in 2011) or signed as free agents (Shaun Livingston & Leandro Barbosa).

Other notable events on June 16th

  • In 1975, Los Angeles Lakers acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and reserve center Walt Wesley from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for center Elmore Smith, forward David Meyers, guard Brian Winters, and swingman Junior Bridgeman.
  • In 1988, an NBA playoff record of 41,732 attended Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons at the Pontiac Silverdome. In front of the record crowd, the Pistons defeated the Lakers 104-94 and took a 3-2 series lead. The Lakers would go on to win the championship series in seven games.
  • In 1993, Michael Jordan dropped 55 points (21-of-37 FG; 13-of-18 FT) in the Chicago Bulls' 111-105 Game 4 win against the Phoenix Suns at the Chicago Stadium. The tally is tied for the second-highest point total in a Finals game.
  • In 1996, Chicago Bulls defeat the Seattle SuperSonics in 87-75 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and clinched their fourth championship in franchise history - the first since Michael Jordan's return to the sport. This Game 6 drew an 18.8 rating and pulled in an estimated 60 million viewers - the most-watched NBA game ever on television. This six-game series pulled in an average rating of 16.7, second only to the six games of the 1993 Chicago-Phoenix Finals series, which averaged a 17.9 rating.
  • In 1999, the Los Angeles Lakers hired Phil Jackson as head coach. Jackson was coming off a year off after he had won his sixth championship with the Chicago Bulls.
  • In 1999, the Alamodome hosted 39,514 fans for Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks. The attendance tally is second-highest in NBA Finals history, second only to the 41,732 in attendance for Game 5 between the Lakers and Pistons in 1988 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

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