The 2015 NBA Champions Golden State Warriors know how to bring “Superman” to his knees and, by all means, members of this admirable group are not at all villains. Warriors General Manager Bob Myers assembled a Horde of Warriors for this year’s campaign, and Coach Steve Kerr was not gun-shy in using them appropriately. And this Legion of Doom are no where near like the villains that pester the Super Friends in the world of superheroes.
Quickly, name the starting five of the Warriors. If you have gone Stephen Curry at point, Klay Thompson at shooting, Harrison Barnes at small, Draymond Green at power and Andrew Bogut at center, you are not riding Golden State bandwagon because they won the championship this year. That was exactly their starting unit in the regular season and in the early part of the playoffs.
Wait a minute! You might be thinking “Isn’t Andre Iguodala named the Finals MVP?” “Did he not start for the Warriors?” “I swear David Lee starts for this team.” Don’t forget Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights, and Leandro Barbosa. This is technically their second five, which could easily take out some starters of other 2015 NBA teams.
Golden State’s postseason motto “Strength In Numbers” is a pertinent rundown of their NBA journey. Kerr ingeniously used speed and spacing which made the starting unit of the Cavs mobile all the time and become tired after every game. It was very obvious from the videos of the games and interviews with Lebron James that the Warriors’ starters were a whole lot fresher than Cleveland’s down the stretch because their reserves had given their starters more rest. Their depth and bench production was the biggest ground they came back from a 1-2 deficit and sweep the remaining three games to bag the series.
Proponents of the selection of Kerr as coach of the year are now wondering more if the NBA did justice in selecting Mike Budenholzer of the Hawks as its choice. Sure, Atlanta’s unit is not as formidable as the Warriors but how Kerr convinced his line-up to take roles that are way outside of their comfort zones and how he’d use them to get the crown used was absolutely genius. It should not be forgotten that these players have too much at stake given their sky-high salaries. Each and every NBA player would not like any demotion to preserve their multi-million salary range in the coming years. And Kerr was successful in letting some of his guys gave up this playing time. Lee is the highest paid Warrior this season at $15 million and he did give up his starter slot to Green without hearing any word of complaint coming out in the open.
On the other hand, Superman Lebron James is now taking charge in carrying the Cavs on his back in the series. With Green Lantern and Batman, referring to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, out of commission, he produced Man of Steel-like numbers to make the Cavs stay afloat and even take games 2 and 3. Two triple doubles and an assist shy to make it three are what his fans want to see. No question, he is the reason why the Cavs were there fighting it out in the tight-fought finals.
James, however, still has to get over his becoming invisible during the end stretches of the games. In an anti-Air Jordan moves, he suddenly becomes nowhere to be found when the Cavs need offense. He takes questionable shots and still defers to his teammates during crucial points of the game. It may have been okay but the rest of his Super Friends could not come up with numbers to match efforts of the heroic Legion of Doom. That should require him to takeover the Cavs offense if they are to have a shot at winning the game.
Back to the collection of Warriors. How much did each contribute to the Warriors cause? Curry lived up to his billing as the season MVP and his shot-making is phenomenal. He averaged 26 points which includes 25 treys, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 Assists and 1.8 steals. He was the anti-Lebron in this finals. He made shots when it mattered most, a lot of them under duress and under heavy guarding to lift the Warriors although that was kinda expected of him. He is worthy of being named Co-finals MVP. Klay Thompson did his share in outside sniping and in guarding Lebron although he struggled in some games. He registered 15.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and a block every game along with 91.7% shooting from the line. There is no question these two delivered their expected contribution.
Let’s look at the others.
Iguodala: Deserving of the finals MVP both statistically and sentimentally. He gave up his starter spot at the beginning of the season so that Barnes will improve and delivered the goods when it was handed back to him. He started the last three games of the finals which includes the enormous task of defending James. And behold, all three games were won by Golden State with more ease compared to their game one overtime win including a game four 103-82 rout. He averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 steals per game including a very hot 40% shooting clip from downtown. He was the first Finals MVP in NBA history to win the award without starting a game in the entire regular season. If there was a weakness, it would have been his freethrow shooting. The Cavs capitalized on it when they employed Hack-an-Andre in crucial stretches.
Green: Another worthy finals MVP. He was a consistent multiple stat provider with his 13 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5 apg, 2.2 spg and 1.2 bpg. He recorded a triple-double, 16 point, 11 rebounds and 10 assists along with 3 steals in game six and owned the highest steals in game during the finals with his 5 in game 2. He played admirably at center when Kerr decided to play Bogut 3 minutes in game 4 and bench him in the last two games.
Barnes: Averaged 5.8 rebounds and led the Warriors in rebounds in game five with 10 and was a co-leader in game 4 with 8.
Livingston: 6th man of the series coming in to give rest to either Curry or Thompson and play either position. He averaged 5.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 20 minutes of playing time a game.
Bogut: Co-leader in rebounds with each time 10 in games 1 and 2. He also led the Warriors in blocks per game swatting an average of 1.3 per game.
Lee: Became a key sub in the last three games at center. He scored 5.5 points in 9.7 minutes a game and knocked down 53.3% of his field goal attempts.
Barbosa: Scored 13 points in game 5 on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 from the line.
Festus Ezeli: He contributed production that was not expected at all. Co-leader in rebounds for the Warriors in game 3 with 7 and knocking down 10 points in game 6 on 3 of 6 on the field and 4 of 5 from the line.
These Warriors are not just many, each of them have chipped in something for their cause. The Legion of Doom has triumph and its not necessarily a bad thing.