The top five season-defining moments from the 2015-16 campaign

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The 2015-16 NBA season may have been and gone, but the spectacular conclusion that saw LeBron James realise a lifelong dream by delivering the city of Cleveland it's first ever NBA championship will live long in the memory.

The Golden State Warriors dethroned the 1996 Chicago Bulls as the greatest regular season team ever when they produced a record of 73-9. Stephen Curry, the point guard of that unit, also became the first player in the history of basketball to become the unanimous MVP.

Kobe Bryant retired, Kawhi Leonard won Defensive Player of the Year again and the Philadelphia 76ers only won 10 games to produce the third-worst regular season record ever.

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It was a campaign full of highlights and talking points, but here we break down five season-defining moments that undoubtedly changed the course of the league.

Draymond Green's temperament

The All-Star Warriors forward is certainly a gregarious and powerful character within the Dubs organisation, but, sometimes, it gets the better of him on the court.

Green had a habit of getting himself into sticky situations in the postseason. After falling over during the Conference Finals series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Green appeared to kick out a leg and catch Russell Westbrook.

That was defended as just part of his momentum. That same excuse was pulled when the former second-round draft pick appeared to punt Thunder center Steven Adams in his nether regions as he escaped with just an upgraded flagrant foul.

Although many felt he should have been suspended for the act, the upgraded foul would come back to haunt Green. After getting into a tussle with LeBron James in the NBA Finals, the 26-year-old appeared to take a swipe at King James' groin and would be reprimanded for the scuffle. As a result of reaching his limit on flagrant fouls, he incurred a suspension.

With the series at 3-1 in the Warriors' favour, Green would miss the game five loss and fail to stem the Cavaliers' momentum when he returned for games six and seven, too. If he had been on the floor in game five, who knows?

Paul George's All-Star outburst

The Indiana Pacers man has had a truly crazy two years.

After suffering a horrific broken leg at a Team USA scrimmage in 2014, George would miss the entire following season with the exception of the six final regular-season games.

Would he be the same player? The Pacers fell out of the playoffs without him, were Indiana doomed? George returned fully fit at the beginning of this season and emphatically answered those questions.

The 26-year-old produced career highs in points, steals and assists to prove he wasn't quite the player he was when he got injured, he had become better.

To cap off his memorable return, the small forward was selected for his third All-Star appearance and absolutely exploded to drop 41 points. Only one, solitary point shy of Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star record of 42.

It's certainly been a feel-good return for PG-13 and he will be hoping to cap off the comeback with a gold medal in Rio this summer with Team USA.

Joe Johnson signs for Miami

Don't get me wrong, Hassan Whiteside had an outstanding campaign and he more than played his part in returning the Heat to the playoffs, but the acquisition of Joe Johnson in late February proved to be the catalyst for a startling run of form from the franchise.

Chris Bosh was ultimately shut down for the second season in a row after the All-Star break and the Florida-based organisation needed something else in the frontcourt to keep up their hopes of securing a postseason berth.

Johnson, who had been carrying around the most lucrative contract in the league during his time with the Brooklyn Nets, agreed a buyout to his contract and signed with the Heat for a paltry $414,481.

That's not even 1/25 of what he earned in New York, but Johnson wanted to join a contender and was prepared to do what it took to do so. The 34-year-old averaged 13.4 points in 32 minutes for the Heat and exhibited a career high field goal percentage of 51.8 percent.

Miami won 10 of their first 12 games with J.J. on board and went on to secure the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Blake Griffin's injury problems

On December 26 2015, Blake Griffin was ruled out indefinitely with a partially torn left quadriceps. While expected to return to action at the end of January, Griffin was instead ruled out for an estimated four to six weeks due to a right-hand injury he sustained just days before his comeback.

The power forward was said to have suffered the setback after hitting a member of the Clippers' equipment staff during an argument at a restaurant in Toronto.

He eventually returned at the beginning of April to play the final regular season fixtures, but would yet again aggravate his quadriceps injury in the playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers. Star point guard Chris Paul would also break his hand during the series and the Clippers were powerless to resist Damian Lillard and Portland.

The 27-year-old, five-time All-Star would miss 45 games as a result of his various injuries and suspensions, but the Clippers still finished in fourth place in a competitive west and were only two games back from the Thunder in third.

Had Griffin and Paul remained fit, could the Clippers have made a deep playoff run?

David Blatt's firing

Following a crushing 132-98 defeat to the Golden State Warriors on home soil at the Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers' brass knew they had to do something if they wanted to compete with the formidable Dubs in the post season.

Five days later, head coach David Blatt was given his marching orders and his assistant coach, Tyronn Lue, was tasked with steering a very talented Cavaliers roster towards the Larry O'Brien trophy.

It's quite a tall order for a first time head coach, but not only did Lue go on to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but they also started the postseason 10-0 to sweep through the first two rounds.

Lue managed to stifle the fabled Splash Brothers in the NBA Finals and it was no coincidence that the Wine and Gold appeared closer than ever off the court, too. Ultimately, leading the Cavaliers to their greatest ever success is the biggest story of them all.

Paul George
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Kobe Bryant
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division

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