In what is already being called one of the best NBA finals of all time, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers erased a 3-1 deficit to capture the city’s first major crown in 52 years.
Backed by a triple-double from James – the series MVP – the Cavs bested the Golden State Warriors in an epic seesaw Game 7, coming away with a 93-89 road victory. In the process they made history becoming the first NBA team to win a final after being down three games to one. James was a clear choice for MVP, leading the series in points, rebounds, assists and steals, but Irving was James’ Batman to his Superman. With the game in the balance with less than two minutes left, Irving hit a go-ahead 3-pointer over an outstretched Stephen Curry. Irving finished with 26 points. James finished with 27 points, 11 boards, 11 assists, two steals and three blocks – one a monster block late in the game that shifted the tide in Cleveland’s favor.
Although not a prolific scorer, former Timberwolves star Kevin Love was credited with playing a gritty role in the Cavs victory. Love missed one game of the series with a concussion, but returned, and in Game 7 he chipped in with nine points and team high 14 rebounds. Defense, an Achilles’ heel most of his career, was a strong suit for Love in the final game, even when guarding the regular season MVP, Curry.
Love, who missed last year’s final due to injury, is in his second season with the Cavs after the blockbuster trade that landed the Wolves the 2014 number one overall pick in Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has been a standout in his first two seasons with the Wolves and was the Rookie of the Year in his first season, but the team has yet to make the playoffs since the 2004 season.
Another former Wolves player, Mo Williams earned a ring, coming off the bench in a supporting role. Williams played only five minutes in the decisive game and finished with two points on one of three from the field.
On the Warriors end, two of the team’s three-headed monster in Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were held in relative check with Curry scoring just 17 points, going just six for 19 and Thompson was held to 14 points on six of 17 shooting. Green, however, was virtually unstoppable, dropping 32 points on the Cavs, along with a game high 15 rebounds.
The win for Cleveland was the first major sports championship since the 1964 NFL Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Colts in the title game that predated the Super Bowl. The first Super Bowl wasn’t played until 1967.