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Cleveland Cavaliers

This Date in NBA History (June 19): Cavaliers edge Warriors in Game 7, complete historic 3-1 Finals comeback in 2016 and more

On June 19th in 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the Finals to clinch their first championship in franchise history.

Thus, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals. Not to mention the fact that they did it against a team that won an NBA record 73 games in the regular season.

In addition, this 2016 NBA title was the first pro sports championship for the city of Cleveland in 52 years.

In this clincher, LeBron James recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists while also recording three blocks and two steals including an iconic fastbreak clutch swat on Andre Iguodala in the final minutes.

He became the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double in Game 7 of the Finals.

Kyrie Irving was the Cavaliers' second-highest scorer with 26 points which includes a clutch triple over Stephen Curry in the final minute. Regarded among the most clutch shots in NBA history, it was the only field goal made by either team in the final 4:38 of the game.

In the following possession, Kevin Love, the third member of the Cavaliers' Big 3, stayed in front of the reigning unanimous MVP and forced Curry into a missed 3-pointer.

Here's a look at those 3 plays - the block, the shot, and the stop

For the Warriors, Draymond Green was the star performer. In a defensive Game 7 that saw players from both teams struggle to knock down shots efficiently, the 6-6 forward scored 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting including seven 3-pointers. He also finished with 15 rebounds, nine assists, and two steals.

The Splash Brothers - Curry and Klay Thompson - only combined for 31 points on 12-of-36 shooting from the field.

"I didn't do enough to help my team win," Curry said. "It will haunt me for a while."

With averages of 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks on 49.4% shooting from the field, James was named Finals MVP for the third time in his career. More importantly, he delivered on the promise of a championship - a commitment he made to Cavaliers fans when he returned to his home state to sign with the franchise in 2014.

"I'm coming home with what I said I was going to do," James said. "I can't wait to get off that plane, hold that trophy up and see all our fans at the terminal."

James is one of five players to have won the Finals MVP thrice and is one of only three players (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kawhi Leonard) to receive the honour while representing two different teams.

Other notable events on June 19th

  • In 1984, Houston Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon with the number one overall pick in the historic 1984 NBA Draft.
  • In 1988, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sank a couple of clutch free throws with 14 seconds left to give the Lakers a 103-102 Game 6 victory which tied their Finals series against the Detroit Pistons 3-3. Pistons' Isiah Thomas scored a game-high 43 points, including a Finals record 25 in the third quarter, despite spraining his ankle earlier in the game. Thomas' 11 field goals in the third quarter are an NBA Finals record as well.
  • In 1994, Hakeem Olajuwon blocked John Starks' potential game-winning 3-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Thus, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 - the only Game 7 of the 1990s - which the Rockets would win for their first championship in franchise history.
  • In 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 116-111 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch their 12th championship in franchise history. For the first time in his career, Shaquille O'Neal was named Finals MVP unanimously for averages of 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 2.3 assists. He became the third player in NBA history after Willis Reed (1970) and Michael Jordan (1996) to sweep MVP honours (All-Star Game MVP, league MVP, and Finals MVP) in a season.

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