Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala was named the 2015 NBA Finals MVP on June 16, becoming the first player in league history to earn the accolade without starting everygame in The Finals.
Andre Iguodala is the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
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Iguodala earned the accolade after the Golden State Warriors' 105-97 series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 16. ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss says it is the first time an NBA player has been named NBA Finals MVP without starting every game.
Strauss also stresses it's the first time in 35 years an NBA Finals MVP and a regular-season MVP are on the same team. Iguodala's teammate, Stephen Curry, won the 2014-15 NBA MVP award. Back in 1980, Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the regular-season MVP while rookie point guard Earvin "Magic" Johnson was the NBA Finals MVP.
Iguodala was a starter in 758 straight games dating back to his time with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets. In 2014-15, he was a reserve until Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to start him in place of center Andrew Bogut per ESPN.
Strauss says the move paid dividends as Golden State beat Cleveland three straight times to win its first NBA title since 1975.
Iguodala averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the 2015 NBA Finals. He had 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in the Game 6 win over the Cavaliers, per ESPN.
He told Strauss after the game on Tuesday the key was playing to his strengths:
"This has been a long ride. It's been a great season.
"My mind was working so many ways. Like, 'What's going to happen if you win? What's going to happen if you lose? How do you approach the game starting? Do you come out firing? Do you let it just come to you?'
"For me, it was just playing my game. If you're feeling it, shoot it. If you feel like you can make a play for somebody else, make a play for somebody else."
According to CBS Sports' Matt Moore, it was Iguodala's defense which made a difference in the 2015 NBA Finals.
Although James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in The Finals, he had a minus net rating when Iguodala was guarding him. James also shot just 38.1 percent, averaged 26 points per 36 minutes and committed 2.9 turnovers when matched up against Iguodala, per Synergy Sports (via CBS Sports).
On the other hand, if Iguodala isn't guarding James, the latter shot 44 percent, averaged 35 points every 36 minutes and committed 2.2 turnovers.
"It's never one-on-one," James told Strauss. "But I think his ability to play multiple positions for their team along with some of those other guys allowed their team to be so dynamic."
James also told CSN Bay Area Warriors Insider Monte Poole on Tuesday Iguodala made the Cavaliers pay:
"He made us pay," James said. "He made us pay tonight with big shots, timely shots, getting out on the break, getting rebounds, getting assists. He was pretty good for their team."
For his part, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told Poole that Iguodala winning 2015 NBA Finals MVP honors is a well-deserved honor:
"You could make an argument that it could have gone to Steph or it could have gone to LeBron. But for us, it's really fitting that the award went to Andre.
"He sacrificed (the starting) job to make Harrison (Barnes) better, to make our bench better and that set the tone for our whole season. For an All-Star, an Olympian, saying, 'OK, I'll come off the bench,' set the tone for every thing we were able to accomplish.
"So it feels like full circle to me that Andre won the award.
"Guarding LeBron James has to be the hardest job in basketball. After the first three games, we decided to start Andre because he was, by far, doing the best job on LeBron. But he was also contributing in so many other ways.
"Their plan was to take Steph away and take Klay (Thompson) away and force Draymond (Green) and Andre to beat them. And Andre did."
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