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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Revenge and Ascension to the Throne

06/20/2016 06:07:50 PM

Emergence. This is the word that described best about LeBron James. After being a choker in the past two NBA Finals series as the leader of Cleveland Cavaliers, James carried his team back into the biggest stage of professional basketball world and all the way til they reached the pinnacle of success, the NBA Championship! All that despite being almost buried down in the deep midway through their best-of-seven semifinal series against (and again) then-defending champs Golden State Warriors.

GSW appeared to be on another a-bit-of-easy ride again after blowing the series wide open after two games. Imagine Warriors defeating Cavs in such an easy manner, blowing them by 15 at Game 1 and a whopping 33-point margin in Game 2.

It was at the second contest where Cleveland's flaws on defense became the focal point of criticism as they failed to close out shooters and their lapses on the inside took them virtually out of the contest. And take note, the duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson wasn't producing big numbers yet during these times.

Series shifted to Cleveland for the next two games and apparently, Cleveland waged its run from the opening tip and never look back. They also improved on defense while their offense showed more signs of life, especially when the duo of LeBron and Kyrie Irving took over. JR Smith also joined the party as he shrugged off the slumps he previously had. They stung back the Warriors by 30 points and took advantage of foul trouble on Curry and in spite of missing the services of Kevin Love due to concussion.

Game 4 was held two days later, and just when a lot of us thought it will be a 2-2 contest, Golden State took control in a closely-contested fight and pulled away late in the game to take home the much-needed victory and sent themselves home with a commanding 3-1 series lead. It was also at the said contest where the splash brothers had then-the most productive output so far.

At the halftime of Game 5, the Cavs had uncertain chances of getting back into the game after fighting tooth-and-nil with the Warriors, 61-all. All that despite missing the services of Draymond Green, who was then suspended after committing a flagrant foul on LeBron James. 

It was only midway through the second half where Cavs pulled away from distance after Andrew Bogut suffered an injury which costed his team's chances of sustaining their fire in the championship series.

Game 6 was back at the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cavs took advantage of foul trouble on Steph Curry, turning the first quarter into another one-sided affair as similar to what happened in Game 3. And for every rally made by the Warriors, the Cavs had an answer. It didn't matter for the Cavs if Love and Iman Shumpert was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, and certainly didn't help the Warriors with foul troubles of its own; plus Andre Iguadola being held back with a back injury.

It almost spawned themselves from another loss when Curry got is sixth foul and was slammed with a instant two technical fouls afterwards, including the throwing of mouthpiece that hit one of the viewers whom turned out a relative of the Cavaliers team owner.

Game 7 was perhaps the most dangerous of them all. Not just because of its nature, but also due to the competing hype of other Sunday specials airing in the United States with WWE's Money in the Bank and Game of Thrones also happening during the evening. They had a lot of lead changes and deadlocks. They are statistically tied on almost every aspect of the game, with both squads scoring 610 total points each after six games.

And despite winning their back-to-back do-or-die games, the odds are stacked against Cleveland with the game slated at the Oracle Arena wherein close to 20,000 people have packed the venue – and most of them are the fans of Warriors. Facebook also stated 55% of its users (who took their picks at the post itself) rooted for Warriors.

However, both teams were under pressure, no one can be safe from committing errors and earning massive criticism from them.

At the end, it was the cold-blooded three-pointer from Irving that sealed the deal for the entire season. That draw the first of the last hurrahs to say the least. And after deciding all of the previous six games by double-digit margins, it was a big fight ended in a very closed-margin, 93-89 in favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The win marked their first championship in franchise history, and the first title in Cleveland's major sporting teams since 1964 with the Cleveland Browns. The Cavaliers became the first team to win the title after trailing 3-1. Two teams tried to do so by forcing Game 7 but eventually bowed out with the last one happened 50 years ago. 

The trend also continues wherein the visiting team takes home the Larry O'Brien trophy, something we have seen most of the time since 2006 (Only '08 Celtics, '10 Lakers, '12 Heat were exempted). And it could have been painful in front of the noisy crowd at Bay Area where the confetti intended for the Warriors did not fall down. 

It was also the first game 7 that won by visiting team since the Washington Bullets in 1978 when they defeated the Seattle Sonics. 

But so do for the Cavs. In their previous two Finals, their opponents clinched the championship at the Q itself: San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and Warriors in 2015.

James, the eventual winner of the NBA Finals MVP award (his third), amassed a triple-double effort of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He previously scored 41 points each in Games 5 and 6. He led everyone in all basic categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) during the entire epic showdown, the first ever player to do so. Perhaps his experience during his stint with Miami Heat helped him become a better player than he was. 

With the loss, the Warriors have been dethroned; and we have seen this kind of scenario since San Antonio Spurs' bunch of Game 7 victories against Detroit Pistons (2005) and Miami Heat (2015), with these teams as then-defending champions.

Still, props to the Western Conference Champs after having an amazing season. They won 73 of their 82 assignments during the regular season, including their first 24 games to start the campaign. They were initially poised to do a repeat, but the latter part of the entire season saw them stumbling on the verge of being eliminated from contention.

The victory may have been solidified James' status as one of the elite players in the NBA right now, and winning his championship as a cavalier proved to be extra special as he won it for his home, and as promised. 

The upcoming months will witness another sudden key change of personnel, and despite the dominating Western Conference, the top power of the league is now staying at the East, and they are rocking and rolling out there.

Author: slickmaster | © 2016 september twenty-eight productions

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