The Cleveland Cavaliers were getting outplayed by the Golden State Warriors after four games. And at that point, plenty believed the series was over. Again Cleveland would be let down and continue the history of letdowns by their professional teams. But there was one group of guys that did not believe this series was over. Tyronn Lue voiced the belief of this team first when he was quoted as saying “If you don’t feel we can win, don’t get on the plane.” At that point, many laughed at him. Could he really believe the Warriors were not going to close out the series in five games? Apparently, he was only voicing the opinion of his team. And to take it a step further and show the belief this team had, they did one other thing. J.R. Smith had an idea for what jersey they should wear in Game 5. And his idea was to wear the Black jerseys with sleeves. But his reason was not for style or anything like that. To him, the color black stood for unity. And with their backs against the wall, they needed to show some unity and bond together; from that moment on, the Cavaliers played even more united and more together on the court. They faced an unlikely task of coming back from down 3-1, but they took it on one game at a time united as a team. And now a little over a week over, the Cavs have erased that deficit and did something no one thought was possible: win three straight games against the best regular season team in NBA history. The champs did it the hard way. But they did it all together and fitting in their roles.
Much had been made of LeBron James and his play in this year’s Finals. Of course, he did not play as aggressive as he could have in the first four games. And many wondered when that guy would show up. He may have shown up late, but he showed up right on time. LeBron scored 41 points twice in Game 5 and 6 and his mindset seemed to change. LeBron began to attack the basket and do it with regularity. At that point, he put pressure on the Warriors every single time he had the ball. And with some timely jump shots, he kept the Warriors honest defensively. Defensively, LeBron had not played up to what he was capable of through four games. And there was some clamoring for that guy to return. Of course he still had some moments where he missed some assignments. But when it mattered most, he came up with some huge chase down and help side blocks in the last three games. And at that point, he flashed back to the guy that was one of the best help defenders in the NBA.
But LeBron was not the only star to step up for Cleveland. Kyrie Irving had been overlooked in this point guard matchup to begin with. Steph Curry was the Mike Tyson of this matchup to many. But many did not respect the Buster Douglas of this matchup, Kyrie Irving. And he came out swinging the entire series. He averaged 27 points per game to Steph’s 22 a game and when it mattered the most in Game 7, he showed up more for his team. Plenty will remember the play of James, but they will never forget the shot made by Kyrie Irving. The Cleveland Cavs set up an on-ball screen between JR Smith and Kyrie Irving to get Steph Curry on Kyrie Irving with the ball in his hands. And with that happening, Kyrie knew it was to his advantage. He danced with the ball and hit a clutch three that gave Cleveland a three-point lead they would never relinquish.
Irving and James were definitely the stars of this historic comeback, but it could not have happened without the role players filling their positions. Tristian Thompson was a monster inside. Much is made of his contract and whether he is worth it or not, but he definitely was a guy that did a lot of the dirty work. On the offensive end, he is always someone you have to account for. Whenever LeBron James, Kyrie Irving or anyone put up a shot, he was always there just in case they missed it. And even though the Warriors were accounting for him, he still was able to make his imprint with his rebounding. But not only was his rebounding important, but so was his energy and physical play. He would often times get switched out to guard Steph Curry and he did quite well against him, keeping him in front of him with his feet and also playing physical enough to both Curry. And on the offensive end, he would provide a spark when he hit baskets. You could often see him yelling and jumping around like a man on fire. And that ignited not only his team but the fans of Cleveland when they were at home. He was absolutely a star in his role for the Cavaliers in this series.
But one guy that will not get as much credit for his role in this series is JR Smith. Plenty will talk about him, his shooting at times and his lapses in this series. But there has to be some credit given to him as well. Plenty remember last year in the NBA Finals where he disappeared. And starting off this postseason, he was absent the first two games, only scoring eight points total. But one thing that never went away was his defense. No matter who he was guarding, he was up on them defensively and he was forcing difficult shots out of them. Before this year, you really could not say that about Smith. But even with his shot not there consistently, ……………. (to read the complete article – click on link | http://ow.ly/5McV301rg41
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former cohost of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Cubs, and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.
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