Last year, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4 games to 2.
In a post about last year’s finals, I wrote that although the Cavaliers’ LeBron James is the best player in the world, his individual performance wasn’t enough to overcome the Warriors’ collective performance. Specifically, I wrote that “… nine different Warriors [scored] in double digits at least once during the series …”
This year, the Cavaliers won the same match up 4 games to 3 after falling behind 3 games to 1. And a big part of the reason why is because two things changed. And these things are related to each other.
First, LeBron James was more humble. Although the Cavaliers fell behind 3 games to 1, giving the Warriors 3 chances to close out the series, LeBron James didn’t respond by stating that he’s the best player in the world. This time, he recognized that for Cleveland to win, he needs his teammates. This was reflected in the second change whereby six Cavs scored in double digits at least once during the series.
While that’s not quite as impressive as the nine Warriors who showed the same performance in last year’s finals, basketball is played with five players. So six players, including the best player in the world, playing well was just enough.
Despite their improved team play, the Cavs still could have come up short. The final game of the series was tied at 89 with 1 minute and 40 seconds remaining, and Andre Iguodala of the Warriors seemed to be headed for an easy layup when LeBron James came, seemingly out of nowhere, to block the shot. The Cavs went on to win 93-89.
So having the best player in the world on a great team helps. Here’s the block to recognize that.
Also published on Medium.