As the 2016 calendar year comes to an end, the LWOS MCXM series captures the 10 most captivating moments and storylines from 2016 in each sport. For LWOPB, we take a look at the 10 events that drew headlines this past year, bringing drama, excitement, and/or intrigue to the NBA.
The edition of this series takes a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ run to the NBA Finals and their historic NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
NBA: Most Captivating Storylines of 2016: LeBron Brings A Championship To Cleveland
In the 2014 offseason, Lebron James returned to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for a second stint. His arrival, as well as the arrival of Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, brought hope to the city of Cleveland and gave many championship hopes; however, the Cavaliers’ championship efforts came up short in the 2015 NBA Finals when they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. They would have their revenge a year later, though, but not before another great and captivating season.
The Run To The Finals
After coming up short in 2015, the Cavaliers had their sights set on winning the chip in 2016, and anything less would be a failure; their play proved just that.
They were able to win the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 record and made their presence felt throughout the league. They were healthy and were going to be a tough matchup for any team, considering the star power at their arsenal which consisted of James, Love, and Kyrie Irving. Those three, as well as the Cavs supporting cast, made their presence felt in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Plowing Through The East
Once the postseason began, the Cavs feasted on their competition. In round one, they swept the up and coming Detroit Pistons, and they also swept the four-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals; they also won the first three games versus the Hawks by ten or more points. Then, the Conference Finals hit, which was where the Cavs were given their first real test.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs took on the two-seeded Toronto Raptors. In the first two games of the series, the Cavs took care of their business winning by 31 and 19; however, then the Raptors climbed out of extinction and gave the Cavs a run for their money in games three and four; they won those games by 15 and 16. The series then went back to Cleveland, but the Raptors went quiet yet again.
In game five, the Cavs manhandled the Raptors. They got out to an 18 point lead in the first quarter, and went on to win by a whopping 38 points. Game six brought more of the same.
Despite the series heading back to Toronto for game six, the Raptors weren’t able to put up much of a fight. The Cavs beat them 113-87, and punched their ticket to the NBA finals, where a once-in-a-lifetime series transpired.
The Finals Of A Lifetime
For the second straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors met in the NBA Finals, where the Warriors looked to defend their title and top off a historic 73-9 season with a championship.
In games one and two, the Warriors dominated the Cavs, winning by 15 and 33. It appeared as if the finals were going to be a clean sweep; however, the Cavs showed life in game three.
James and the motivated Cavs blew out the Warriors in front of their home crowd 120-90 to make it a series. Game four, though, was a step back for Cleveland; Stephen Curry dropped 38 and the Warriors edged the Cavs by 11 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead and send the series back to Golden State; however, before game five, the NBA made a move which in a way altered the finals.
The NBA suspended Warriors forward Draymond Green for game five of the series due to a flagrant foul assessed to him in game four; the Cavs took full advantage of his absence. James and Irving each scored 41, but James also racked in 16 boards and dished out 7 assists. Their efforts were a big part of why the Cavs were able to send the series back to Cleveland for a game six.
In game six, the Cavs carried their momentum from game five right into tipoff, as they got off to a 31-11 lead. James and the Cavs would go on to win 115-101 and put the Warriors championship hopes on life support. James’ 41 points and the Cavs’ dog pound efforts set the stage for what would be a historic and heroic game seven.
Game 7. The stage was set. The Cavs tied the series at three games a piece to force a game seven in Oracle Arena. On the other hand, after coming back down three games to one versus the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors were in danger of blowing that same lead themselves. The Cavs and Warriors were under opposite conditions, but they both could’ve won game seven and still crowded themselves champions. So how did it end?
After a competitive first quarter, the Cavs lead the Warriors 23-22; it was beginning to look like a finals classic. The second quarter brought more the same, but the Warriors outscored the Cavs by 8 to take a 7 point lead at the half. The second half would be a classic.
The Cavs outscored Golden State 33-27 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 1; the fourth quarter was where the magic happened though. Some would argue that the fourth quarter was the greatest quarter in Finals history, as the Cavs and Warriors went toe to toe, but in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, James turned the tables to raise up for a block to be remembered for years to come.
James’ heroic block set the stage for one of the clutchest shots in NBA history.
Irving’s three ending up being the series-winning jumper for the Cavs.
After years of tease and pain, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, and they brought home a championship to the city of Cleveland. James brought a ring to the city of Cleveland, as he and the Cavs lead all storylines in 2016 with their historic upset and comeback versus the Warriors. Care to relive the final minute of the action?
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)