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Warriors go small to win big, take first title since 1975

The state of the Golden State Warriors after winning their first NBA title in 40 years?

Golden.

The Warriors won their fourth NBA title with their Game 6 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their first since the 1974-75 season. They are the fifth team in NBA history with at least four titles, joining the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and Spurs.

The history

The Warriors won 83 games this season. They are the third team in NBA history to win at least 83 games, through both the regular season and playoffs, joining the 1995-96 and 1996-97 Bulls. Steve Kerr played on both of those Bulls teams and hit the title-clinching shot in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

Kerr is the fourth head coach to win an NBA title after winning at least five as a player. The other three are former Celtics legends Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones. Kerr is the only one of the four to win the title in his first season as head coach.

Kerr’s .817 winning percentage in the regular season broke the record for the best first-season record as a head coach.

Whose mark did he break? Red Auerbach, who went 49-11 in his first season coaching the Washington Capitols (Kerr’s winning percentage was .8170; Auerbach’s was .816666).

Coincidentally, Russell, Heinsohn and Jones were all coached by Auerbach.

The MVP: Andre Iguodala

If you thought Kawhi Leonard was an unlikely NBA Finals MVP, this year’s winner was an even greater surprise.

Iguodala clinched MVP honors by scoring 25 points in Game 6, his most points in a game since October 2013.

Iguodala averaged 7.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in a regular season in which he didn’t start a game. He averaged 16.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in the NBA Finals.

That's the lowest scoring average by a Finals MVP since Magic Johnson in 1982, and the third-lowest of all time (Wes Unseld averaged 9.0 points for the 1978 Bullets). The award was first handed out in 1969.

Iguodala became the first NBA Finals MVP who did not start a game in the regular season.

He won his first NBA Finals in his 11th season in the NBA.

The turning point

This series turned when Kerr plugged Iguodala into the starting lineup for Andrew Bogut. The Warriors went with a smaller lineup for almost the entirety of Games 4, 5 and 6.

Golden State outscored the Cavaliers by 60 points with a small lineup in this series. They were outscored by 17 points when they used a big lineup.

Iguodala was charged with guarding LeBron James throughout the series. He held James to 35 percent shooting from the field and forced 13 turnovers.

The star: Stephen Curry

Curry finished with 98 3-pointers this postseason. That shattered the previous NBA record of 58 in a postseason by Reggie Miller. His 25 made 3-pointers this series were two shy of the record for a single NBA Finals (27, by Danny Green of the Spurs in 2013).

Curry became the third point guard to win an MVP award and an NBA title in the same season, joining NBA greats Bob Cousy and Magic Johnson.

The Warriors' win continues a trend of note: No team with the NBA MVP has ever lost in the NBA Finals after taking a 3-2 series lead. Those teams are 14-for-14.

LeBron

James had an incredible series, among the best ever by a player in a losing effort. On Tuesday he became the sixth player in NBA history to score 5,000 career playoff points, along with Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.

That said, the Warriors made him work for everything he got.

James shot 40 percent from the floor this series. He shot 57 percent from the floor in last year’s NBA Finals and 45 percent in the Finals two seasons ago.

Did you know? Game 6's unsung hero

Draymond Green's triple-double in Game 6 was the second triple-double of his career. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that he joined Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, James Worthy, Tim Duncan and James as players who had a triple-double in a series-clinching win (Johnson did it twice).