The 2016 Finals were yet another year where the Golden State Warriors were projected to win it all. It was Steph and Klay against LeBron and Kyrie. After the best regular season in NBA history, the Warriors headed into the playoffs on top of the NBA. Shattering the previous NBA record held by 1995-96 Bulls who lost 10 games. They broke many records this year, and they were considered one of the best teams in NBA history. They then fought through the playoffs they met the Cavs in the Finals. The Cavs had 16 more regular season losses than the Warriors and finished first in Eastern Conference. The Cavs only lost 2 games in the postseason behind the efforts of Lebron James and Kyrie Irving. As the two met in the finals, the Cavs were just straight up disrespected. Most storylines read the same thing, how the Warriors could write their names into history with a few more wins. Most people overlooked the fact that this was an NBA Finals and wrote about how great the Warriors were. The Cavs took it to heart and they were fired up, heading into the playoffs.
Game 1: Cavaliers at Warriors, Oracle Arena
In Game 1, Cleveland had done what they needed to do on the defensive end, locking down Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. The two combined for 20 of the teams 104 points, combining for less than ten shots. But, Curry and Thompson would be backed up by the rest of their team. Shaun Livingston had gone 8-10 from the field, scoring a playoff-high 20 points, giving Golden State the boost they needed. The Big Three for Cleveland did their job, each of them scoring above 15 points. Kyrie led the way with 26, but the bench couldn’t back up the starters play. The Cavaliers bench would only come up with 10 points, which was the main reason they lost. Like most games, the Warriors came up strong in the second half, eventually getting on a 15-0 scoring run. Cleveland was happy with the way they stopped the two star players, but the rest of the games they would need to defend like this for the whole team.
Final Score: CLE 89 GSW: 104 (GSW Leads 1-0)
Game 2: Cavaliers at Warriors, Oracle Arena
In Game 2, the Warriors took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Finals to lead by two of their all stars. They routed the Cavs 110-77 behind Draymond Green’s 28 points going 5-11 from beyond the arc. Curry was facing foul trouble for most of the game and only scored 18 points. James had 19 points and nine assists, while Kyrie just struggled with only 10 points. The Dubs also outrebounded the Cavs by 12 and played great defense. The Cavs were extremely lucky in the first half to have Curry be in foul trouble. That led to them only being down 52-44 at the half. Although the Warriors took over in the second half and extended their lead. At the end of these two games, one thing is for sure. The Cavs need to sure up their defense if they want to win.
Final Score: CLE 77 GSW: 110 (GSW Leads 2-0)
Game 3: Warriors at Cavaliers, Quicken Loans Arena
When fans look back at the final score of this game, all of their jaws will be dropping. Cleveland outplayed, outhustled, outran, and outdid Golden State on every possession of this game. Kyrie and LeBron combined for 62 of the teams 120 points, dominating on the offensive end. J.R. Smith would also drop 20, giving Cleveland an extra edge in the game. After the first quarter of this game, the Cavs would already be up 17 points, thanks to their outstanding play on offense and defense. If Cleveland wanted to win this series, they were going to have to step up on the defensive end vastly, which is exactly what they did. Like Game 1, Cleveland limited Steph and Klay to under 30, and held the entire team to under 100 points for the first time this series. Cleveland did everything they could to not go down 3-0, and it all paid off in blowout fashion against the defending champs.
Final Score: GSW 90 CLE 120 (GSW Leads 2-1)
Game 4: Warriors at Cavaliers, Quicken Loans Arena
How would the warriors respond to the blowout loss they just took in the game before. That was the question many were asking heading into Game 4 of the Finals. The Warriors instantly got going are started the game with a 9-0 run. They then slowed down after Tristan Thompson started getting going on the offensive glass. Steph Curry finally started to look like himself in this game against the Cavs. He had 38 points going 7-13 from 3 point range. The Cavs luckily got back into a groove and were able to force some bad shots from the Dubs and took the lead at the half. Then the worst case scenario came for the Cavs, the Warriors came back and started to get going. The Warriors even built a 6 point lead against them. GSW would keep it going, making plays on the offensive glass and getting to Lebron and Kyrie on the other end. It worked well enough and the Warriors ran out of Cleveland with the win.
Final Score: GSW 108 CLE 97 (GSW Leads 3-1)
Game 5: Cavaliers at Warriors, Oracle Arena
Golden State was back home after going 1-1 in Cleveland, trying to claim back-to-back titles for their fans in Oakland. But, they would have to try and do this without starter Draymond Green. The Cavaliers took advantage of his absence, driving lanes more often, and spreading the floor more. Both LeBron and Kyrie would go off in this game, and I mean they went off. That duo combined for 82 points, proving to everyone that this series was far from over. King James went 16-30 from the field, while Mr. Irving shot an outstanding 17-24 from the field, 9-15 from beyond the arc. Klay Thompson and Steph Curry contributed a lot for the Dubs, despite being cold from the field earlier. But Klay´s 37 and Steph’s 25 points would not be enough to take down the Cavs team that was full of energy. At half, the game was tied, both teams had an equal chance to win the ball game. Then, in the 3rd Quarter, Cleveland would hold the Warriors to just 23 points, putting up 32 themselves. After Andrew Bogut would eventually leave the game due to a knee sprain, the Warriors had to play very strong in the paint, and not allow Tristan Thompson to score easy buckets. But, in the end, Kyrie and LeBron were just too much for the Warriors to handle. They would now have to go to Cleveland and try to win in that tough environment at Quicken Loans Arena.
Final Score: CLE 112 GSW 97 (GSW Leads 3-2)
Game 6: Warriors at Cavaliers, Quicken Loans Arena
After a great win in Oracle Lebron and co needed one more to get to a game 7 against the Dubs. James had 41 points in this game along with 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. He was officially in Playoff mode after back to back games of complete domination. Despite Curry finishing with 3o points, it just wasn’t enough. Klay added 25 points and Green had 8. The Warriors just didn’t score until the 6:56 first quarter on a layup from Green. The Dubs only scored 11 in the first half and Cleveland controlled the game from the start to the end. Cleveland would put the game out of reach with a 70-46 lead. The Warriors would come back, but everything was going in favor on the Cavs. They got many buckets and just completely dominated. Curry also grabbed his 6th foul in the fourth which ultimately ended the game for the Dubs.
Final Score: GSW 101 CLE 115 (Series tied 3-3)
Game 7: Cavaliers at Warriors, Oracle Arena
It was probably one of the highest anticipated games in NBA Finals history. Could LeBron really get that trophy for Cleveland? Was Golden State going to blow a 3-1 lead? It all came down to this game in Oakland, California. This game was the closest in the series, the winning margin being just four points. In the first half, it was all about defense. Cleveland scored 42 in the first half, while the Warriors scored 49. It was a competitive game all throughout, LeBron playing unquestionably great, and Draymond Green being the underrated superstar of that game for the Dubs scoring 32. The fourth quarter started with Cleveland holding a one point lead, up 76-77. The whole fourth quarter went back and forth until the crazy 3 by Kyrie Irving came. With 53 seconds remaining in the fourth, Kyrie Irving drained a between the leg step-back 3, with Mike Breen screaming ¨Ït´s good!!!¨. After Steph Curry missed a three, Golden State was forced to intentionally foul, giving Cleveland a four point lead with 6.3 seconds remaining.
After the final buzzer went off, it all finally sunk in for LeBron. He had done what he promised for the city of Cleveland. The 52 year drought was no longer there, and Believeland was a city of champions. This series will always be one of the most memorable in Finals history. LeBron would finish his interview with Doris Burke screaming ¨CLEVELAND. THIS IS FOR YOU.¨
Final Score: GSW 89 CLE 93 (CLE WINS 4-3)
top photo: USA Today