Cleveland Cavaliers have won the 2016 NBA championship with a narrow 93-89 win over the Golden State Warriors in the winner-take-all game seven to complete a 4-3 series victory.
For the city of Cleveland, the 52-year wait for a title is over and the Cavaliers have also become the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 1-3 deficit to win a title.
Unanimously, LeBron James was named the Finals MVP as he recorded a triple-double of 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers in a closely-fought encounter – something that fans that had tuned in from the start have not been able to enjoy.
The man that ultimately sealed game seven though was Kyrie Irving, who hit 26 points and it was his dagger three-pointer over league MVP Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left that gave Cleveland a 92-89 lead that stunned Golden State, and ended their historic season, with a record 73-9 mark and endless accolades with the lowest of lows.
Draymond Green led all scorers in vain for the Warriors with 32 points.
Both teams looked expectedly nervous at the beginning, even James, the only player to appear in NBA Finals, game seven’s looked shaky, much to the delight of the raucous crowd inside the pro-Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena.
Green though looked cool, calm, collected, leading the Warriors and despite being a non-factor in these finals, Kevin Love was out-hustling the Golden State big men under the basket. And with James finally attacking the hoop, the Cavaliers took a 23-22 lead heading into quarter number two.
The Warriors, led by Green were unconscious from three-point land in the first half, but the same could not be said about the Cavaliers, who missed their first seven attempts before Iman Shumpert drained a corner triple plus the foul to give his side a 31-29 lead early into the period.
But, unlike in games five and six, James, who enjoyed back-to-back 41-point efforts, preferred to attack and facilitate to his team-mates, which really didn’t help the cause for Cleveland as the Warriors came back to retain their lead and a three in the corner from Barbosa stretched the hosts lead to 47-40 with 2:05 left in the second, eventually settling for a 49-42 lead at the half.
Back-to-back three-pointers from JR Smith swung the pendulum back in the Cavaliers favour before the Warriors answered back to take a 54-46 lead thanks to a tough baseline jumper by Klay Thompson. And that was when Irving took over as he inspired the visitors back into the game and help them to a 68-61 lead with 4:00 left.
But, with the game in Cleveland’s grasp, and shot attempts missing its mark, the Warriors spotted an opening and eventually tied the game at 71-71 with 1:55 left before taking a slender 76-75 lead going into the last 12 minutes of NBA basketball.
In truth, the fourth quarter was an ugly affair but with good reason. The NBA title was waiting for the winner, and it was James and Irving who had the desire and belief as north-east Ohio celebrated for the first time in 52 years.
Tyronn Lue is very confident: he's wearing the worst jacket of his wardrobe being afraid to damage a good one in the celebrations.
— Guido Guida (@GuidoGuida) June 20, 2016
Not a lot of bench scoring for either team in the first quarter: Cleveland 2, Golden State 1.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 20, 2016
— Jodie Valade (@JodieValade) June 20, 2016
Irving is doing work right now.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 20, 2016
— TalkBasket (@TalkBasket) June 20, 2016
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) June 20, 2016
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 20, 2016
Adam Silver just called this one of the greatest games in NBA history. I agree.
— Shlomo Sprung (@SprungOnSports) June 20, 2016
LeBron led all players on both teams in pts, reb, ast, stl & blk. He is the 1st player in Finals history to do so. pic.twitter.com/Uu2eE7lLaF
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 20, 2016
Happy Father's Day, MVP. pic.twitter.com/hOlgaG8Byj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 20, 2016