Monday, June 20, 2016 4:56 am
LeBron James has led Cleveland Cavaliers to win their first NBA trophy, beating Golden State Warriors, defending champions at home, 93-89.
For James, the victory has cemented his name in the NBA legend. Twice he had played in two NBA finals Game 7, twice he had won both.
More remarkable was that James’ Cavaliers have become the first team in NBA history to come back from a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, winning the final three games of the series over the 73-win Warriors.
After winning the most games in regular season history, the Warriors came up short in the Finals, losing three consecutive games for the first time all season after dominating the Cavaliers through the first four games of the series to the tune of a 3-1 lead. Stephen Curry had 17 points in Game 7, but struggled throughout the series, failing to live up to his back-to-back regular season MVP awards.
Oracle Arena roared from the opening tip as both teams came out firing. Festus Ezeli started for the first time all postseason in place of the injured Andrew Bogut, and the Warriors avoided a repeat of their slow start in Game 6 thanks to five three-pointers in the first. James had six points and six rebounds to lead the Cavaliers as they took a 23-22 lead into the second quarter.
James and Draymond Green took turns taking over in the second quarter. James was a block machine on the defensive end and Green couldn’t miss a shot. Green was 5-of-5 from deep on his way to 22 first-half points. The Warriors couldn’t pull away from James and the Cavaliers, though, as Irving gave the Cavaliers a boost on the offensive end of the court. The Warriors hit 10 three-pointers in the half and took a 49-42 lead as the Cavaliers went 1-of-14 from deep.
J.R. Smith brought the heat to start the second half, hitting two threes to lead an 8-0 Cavaliers run that tied the game at 54. Then, after the Warriors went on a 5-0 run, Irving took over. He led the Cavaliers on an 14-2 run as the Cavaliers threatened to pull away. The Warriors weren’t going to roll over — they haven’t all season. They stormed back with a 15-7 run to end the third quarter and took a 76-75 lead heading into the final frame.
James had the block of the series on a Warriors fast break with 1:45 remaining, but missed a shot in the lane with 1:25 left. Curry missed a three on the following possession, and it was tied with 1:00 to play.
Then, Irving shimmied his way to a three to give the Cavaliers a 92-89 lead.