When the Golden State Warriors were looking to turn the tide of the Western Conference Finals, they turned to a team that wasn’t a contender but still had a winning record and was a perennial contender in the West.
The Cavs were coming off a historic run that would define them as the league’s best team ever.
The Warriors were no different.
They beat the Cavs, 6-2, in Game 7, and the Warriors would eventually capture the title.
But the Cavs’ offense, which had been a revelation throughout the regular season, fell apart in the Finals, and LeBron James was sidelined with a broken leg.
The Cavaliers’ defense was not only inconsistent, but downright terrible, and that was the difference between them and the reigning champions.
This was a team built to win championships and the Cavs were not.
After Game 7 was over, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was asked if he felt he’d played well enough to be in the playoffs.
“I don’t think we played well,” Lue replied.
“If we played poorly, I don’t know how we would have played.”
Lue didn’t say if he would have kept James, but he certainly didn’t feel the need to say he would not have kept LeBron.
In the Finals that would not change.
James was out for the first two games of the Finals after suffering a broken right thumb, and while he was expected to be back in time for Game 5, it took the Cavs five more games to win the series, 4-2.
Lue’s defense in Game 6 was atrocious.
The Golden State team lost the first four games, including Game 6, and then lost to LeBron again, this time in a Game 7.
Luing was a very good defensive coach, and he would be a good coach if he were able to put his defense back on track and not give the Cavs offense a chance.
But James was gone and the Cavaliers were back to square one.
James would return to the lineup for Game 7 and lead the Cavs to an impressive comeback win, but this time the Cavaliers would lose to the Warriors, 6, 4.
The next season would bring the Warriors to the Finals for the third straight time.
This time the Warriors were not even a contender.
The defending champions would not be able to repeat as champions.
The Finals will be remembered as a championship for the entire Warriors team.
This will not be the last time that we see James leave a mark on the Warriors’ legacy.
In addition to being a great basketball coach, James was also a great human being.
He loved his team, his city, and his country, and when he was away from the court, he was a man who had his priorities in order.
James always took his team to the championship and he always put the team’s best interests first.
It was the ultimate respect that the Cavaliers had for James.
It wasn’t enough for James to be the best coach in the world, but the Warriors could never let him be that.
The Golden State dynasty is gone.
This team was built to play for the crown, and if the Cavs could have done that, then it was time to rebuild.
The question was, what would have happened if James left?