After a crazy night to finish the NBA season, Step Back-J provides you a recap of the crazy with a quick recap of the game, before he dives into what it means for both franchises moving forward.
A sense of relief was visible in LeBron’s face after winning game 7. He had just brought a title to Cleveland ending one of the biggest sports droughts in modern history. Being blown out in game 2 and falling to 2-0, then losing game 4 and being down 3-1, nearly everyone counted the Cavaliers out. Just the thought of the Warriors losing three straight games (2 at Oracle) was meet with laughs from many around the NBA. Another finals loss added to LeBron’s resume was inevitable. But then something magical happened. With a sense of calmness unseen since he had returned, LeBron put the Cavaliers on his back and relentlessly attacked and showed the world why he is still the best player of the world and one of the greatest of all time. For all the talk about Curry surpassing him as the face of the league and claiming his throne, he was completely outplayed not only by LeBron (who completely destroyed him), but by James sidekick Kyrie Irving who made a compelling case to being Finals MVP. He was exposed on defense and could not explode with Kyrie as his primary defender. LeBron heard all this chatter about the unanimous MVP and decided he had enough.
The decisive moment in this series was when Green called LeBron a b**** in game 4 and was subsequently suspended. From that moment, LeBron went beastmode on the Warriors with a take no prisoners’ attitude and an all-time great performance. With the help of Kyrie it was too much for a team fighting to be greatest of all time. Lue showed he is not only James coach, but an individual with a bright future ahead of him. He built this team to beat the Warriors, and beat the Warriors they did. For all the doubts and things said after Blatt was let go, Lue silenced his critics.
Kyrie also faced his share of criticism, as the point guard who could not distribute the ball, as a ball hogging individual. He also put the world on a notice: He is coming. With an array of offensive moves and an improving defense, expect Irving to contend for MVP and titles for seasons to come. Kevin Love, despite constant questions about his fit, played one of his most underrated games ever. He played aggressively, crashed the boards and left it all on the floor, exactly what his Cleveland teammates wanted out of him. Even J.R Smith hit some important threes and played aggressive defense all night long.
For LeBron, this was his legacy defining moment. One title for Cleveland, his hometown. This cemented his spot on the figurative Mt. Rushmore. An epic finals performance to silence his critics about how he performs when the stakes are at the highest. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN had talked about the possibility of LeBron leaving Cleveland after fulfilling his promise of bringing a championship home. But after this series, one where he found out what Kyrie can do on the biggest stage, why would he leave? While starting a dynasty in Cleveland is taking this a step too far, it is not that farfetched to think that they could win at least one more title together. Perhaps trading Kevin Love and acquire a couple of versatile role players (something like, I do not know, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder from Boston?) could extend their window.
But what about the Warriors? Following an epic 73 win season falling short of a championship would be a massive disappointment. And that’s exactly what happened. Curry fell short in this finals and looked nothing like the unanimous MVP of the regular season. He was careless with the ball and failed to consistently show up when it really mattered. He missed his shot at LeBron, who continues to hold the title of Best Player in the World. Klay Thompson also failed to show up in game 7, despite having some very solid performances throughout the series. Like it or not, despite his performance in game 7, Draymond Green will always have that game 5 suspension on the back of his mind. Steve Kerr may have played more players than he should have and in game 7, the last game of the season, you rotation should be shorter and Curry should not have started the 4th quarter on the bench.
Nonetheless, this was a great series. Despite the blowouts in most games, we got what we wanted in an epic close game 7 that will be remembered for the ages. We got to see two players go head-to- head for the best in the world title. We saw two premier sidekicks going at each other in Klay and Kyrie. This is what a game 7 is all about.
By: Step Back-J