With the 2014-15 NBA season officially in the books, the final answer to Slate’s ongoing Finals debate—“Who Did It Better?”—is an easy one: The Golden State Warriors.
If that sounds like a copout, well, it’s because it sort of is. That doesn’t make it any less correct.
Once again elite on both ends of the floor, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala did more than enough to earn a #WDIB vote, sure. Same goes for Draymond Green, whose triple double puts him in rare NBA Finals company. And reigning MVP Steph Curry, with a “quiet” 25 points, probably deserves a vote as well—being Steph Curry and all. Heck, an argument could even be made for Steve Kerr, if only based on his shaking loose of the demonic possession that had seemingly sapped him of any coaching acumen through the first four games of the series.
But in the end, it was the sum of all of those parts that delivered the knockout punch to LeBron, not one player.
For those of us hoping for a game-by-game title fight between an ankle-breaking, unconscious-from-three Curry and LeBron in full supernova, this result is, I guess, somewhat of a disappointment.
While were treated to regular (and admittedly spectacular) screenings of the LeBron James show, we also ended up watching a game in which Matthew Dellavedova pestered Curry to a 2-15 from 3-point-range shooting performance, another in which the Australian was one of the two most impactful players on both ends of the floor (we’re positive this wasn’t just a shared fever dream?), and a series that ended with sixth-man Andre Iguodala being awarded—and earning—Finals MVP.
It was a weird series, in that it wasn’t exactly what we may have expected or hoped for. But, in hindsight, that’s probably because we weren’t paying close enough attention. While Curry was an absolute monster this year, the Warriors as a team were even better. From start to finish, they consumed the rest of the league like some sort of amorphous science fiction creation, bludgeoning opponents with Splash Brothers-led shooting one game and hustle points and interior defense the next. Wire-to-wire, they were the best team in the league this year, and will go down as one of the best of all time.
So it should come as no surprise at all that it was the Warriors’ across-the-board team effort that was ultimately too much for LeBron and his Kevin Love-less, Kyrie Irving-less Cavs. In the six-round bout between LBJ and Steph, James won by unanimous decision, no question. But in the match between Curry, Iguodala, Green, et al., and James and his admirable merry band of misfits, all the cards went in Golden State’s favor.
So who did it better? The now-world champion Golden State Warriors. As a team. Fittingly.