Cleveland Cavaliers

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Cleveland Cavaliers overcome 3-1 deficit to beat Golden State Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals

The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors set the basketball world on fire. The Warriors won an NBA record 73 regular season games, and PG Stephen Curry won the unanimous MVP award after posting one of the most magical regular seasons in NBA history. Curry shot over 50% from the field, over 40% from 3-point range and over 90% from the free throw line, elite efficiency that helped him post one of the 10 best single season player efficiency ratings in league history. The Warriors, led by Curry and SG Klay Thompson, were overwhelming in their ability to rain 3-pointers, which gave them the ability to score points in avalanches. As a team, the Warriors shot an incredible 41.6% from 3-point range, led by Curry and Thompson, who shot 45.4% and 42.5% from 3-point range, respectively. The gravity that Curry and Thompson commanded on the perimeter led to tons of easy baskets for the rest of the Warriors’ roster with their beautiful ball movement based style. PF Draymond Green’s ability to facilitate and play small ball center also made him a huge weapon in pick-and-roll sets with Curry, as teams were forced to choose between switching a big onto Curry or trapping Curry and letting Green play 4-on-3 basketball with the ball in his hands. This Warriors lineup became known as the “Death Lineup”–Curry, Thompson, Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala–as playing small with Green at center gave the Warriors the type of floor-spacing that made them almost unguardable.

The Cavaliers did not enjoy nearly the same regular season success as the Warriors, but their 57-win season was enough to give them the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The supremely talented Cavs, who lacked regular season urgency, flipped a switch once the playoffs began and stormed through the Eastern Conference playoffs, outscoring opponents by a dominant 13 points per game and finishing with a 12-2 record. The Warriors were pushed to the brink in the Western Conference Finals by an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the Warriors rallied from down 3-1 in the series to advance to the NBA Finals to face the Cavaliers in a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, which the Warriors won in six games. While the franchises were the same, the matchup was much different, as the Cavs played most of the first matchup without stars Kyrie Irving (knee) and Kevin Love (shoulder). Both teams were now fully healthy for this Finals rematch.

The Warriors clobbered the Cavs in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland, outscoring the Cavs by an average of 24 points per game. The Cavs bounced back at home in Cleveland in Game 3, recording a 30-point blowout win of their own. Game 4 was tight in the second half, but the Warriors began to pull away late. With the Warriors about to go up 3-1 in the series, LeBron James and Draymond Green got tangled on the court, and James decided to step over Green, who had tumbled to the floor. Green punched at James’ groin in retaliation and was given a flagrant foul after the game, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension due to excessive flagrant fouls accumulated during that postseason.

Green’s Game 5 suspension was the turning point in the series. James and Irving each scored 41 points in a Game 5 win at Oakland, making them the first teammates to score at least 40 points each in an NBA Finals game. Green returned for Game 6 in Cleveland, but the Cavs kept the momentum going and won by a comfortable 14 points to force a Game 7 back on the Warriors’ home floor in Oakland. Game 7 was epic, and with the score tied at 89 with less than three minutes to play, a sequence of clutch plays helped put the Cavs on top. First, James made one of the greatest and most clutch defensive plays in NBA history, blocking an Andre Iguodala lay up attempt off a fast break to keep the score tied at 89.

Irving then drilled a clutch 3-point attempt after JR Smith set a screen to get Curry switched onto Irving, which gave the Cavs a 3-point lead with less than a minute left in the game.

Kevin Love then had a key defensive sequence on the perimeter where he contested a Curry 3-point attempt, which ultimately contributed to the shot missing. LeBron James then iced the game at the free throw line after a free throw put the Cavs up by four points. The Cavaliers’ rally to win the NBA title marked Cleveland’s first major sports championship since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964.

James, who was named Finals MVP, finished with a historically great performance, becoming the first player in NBA history to lead all players in a playoff series in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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