2016 NBA Finals: LeBron James and Cavaliers make history, win first NBA title in franchise history
Golden State Warriors 89-93 Cleveland Cavaliers [Cleveland win series 4-3]
Two-time NBA Finals MVP, LeBron James came up huge for a third straight game and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win their first ever NBA title with a win in Game 7 over the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors. James recorded a triple double, his 7th of the Finals, with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals en route to helping his Cavaliers become the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
James absolutely dominated Game 7 but received crucial offence from point guard Kyrie Irving with his 26 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter. Kevin Love finally showed up in these Finals, recording just 9 points but grabbing 14 huge rebounds and dishing out 3 dimes. In the end, Cleveland’s Big 3 delivered for the team in their own different ways in the final couple of minutes of their season.
With 1:50 to go, James had a clutch chase down block on Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt. Kyrie Irving knocked down a clutch dagger three-pointer over Stephen Curry and Kevin Love played his best defense of the season on Curry with less than a minute to go.
The Cavaliers got a lot of meaningful production from their “other guys”. Despite the bleak stats of 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks, center Tristan Thompson was a huge factor in the game’s rebound battle. J.R.Smith contributed 12 points, including 9 of Cleveland’s first 11 points of the second half.
Despite all the support, these Finals have been all about LeBron James and his dominance on both ends of the floor. He deservedly was named the unanimous 2016 NBA Bill Russell Finals MVP, the third of his career. He joins NBA greats like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Magic Johnson to have 3 Finals MVP on their resume. He also joins Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP with multiple teams.
Here’s some proof of his all-round contribution:
LeBron James: led all players on both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in series— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 20, 2016
The 2016 NBA title is also the first pro sports title won by a team from Cleveland since 1964, back when legendary running back Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns won the NFL title. After two years and a lot of hardships, James delivers on his promise, one he made when he left the Miami Heat in the summer of 2014, of a championship.
For the Golden State Warriors, this loss deprived them a chance at capping off the best season ever. With 73 wins and the 3-1 comeback over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors were on pace for a record-shattering season but eventually were stuck on the wrong side of a 3-1 comeback when the Finals came around.
Despite the loss, Draymond Green’s performance must be mentioned as one of the greatest and most efficient games by a player on the losing side of a Finals Game 7. He had 32 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals on 11 of 15 shooting (6 of 8 on 3’s) while almost playing the entire game (46:54 minutes). If it wasn’t for him missing Game 5 with a suspension and his dismal showing in Game 6, Green was proving to be a strong contender himself for the Finals MVP.
Golden State did lose by just four points but other than Green no other Warriors player showed up. Splash Brothers Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry only combined for 31 points on 12 of 36 shooting (33.3%) and 6 of 24 (25%) on long range shots.
Harrison Barnes too chipped in with just 10 points and 2 rebounds on 30% shooting. Curry, the 2016 unanimous league MVP joined Jabbar (1974) as the only two league MVP’s to lose a Finals Game 7 at home.
Last year’s Finals MVP Andre Iguodala did have a good all round game with 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks but was way too passive on the offensive end, taking just six shots and making only 2 of them.