The Golden State Warriors looked set to become back-to-back champions with a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, but it turned out the Cleveland Cavaliers had some tricks up their sleeves.
It was a historic conference for both teams: The Warriors finished with a 73-9 record during the regular season, while the Cavs bounced back from a 3-1 deficit during the crucial moments of the best-of-seven series to become the first NBA team to do so—in addition to ending a more than 50-year championship drought.
Any basketball player who attended a basketball training camp learns game strategy and conditioning. So what went wrong for the Warriors? The disappointing loss allowed LeBron James to redeem himself and ultimately keep his promise of bringing a trophy for the Cavs.
The Cavs didn’t win just because their California-based opponent squandered a huge advantage as they entered the final stretch of the season. The chess game between Tyronn Lue and Steve Kerr proved too much for the latter, as it was perhaps his decision to field Festus Ezeli onto the court late in Game 7 that turned out to be a wrong call.
…or not. One of the reasons the Warriors lost to the Cavs involved their poor shooting prowess in the last and most important game of the season. Curry and Thompson displayed their skill in flawlessly dropping 3-pointers all season. But that changed during the finals, as even that costly 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving in the last few minutes of Game 7 appeared to be a deal breaker for another Warriors championship.
Of course, we can’t discredit the fact that James—who was named finals MVP—fired from all cylinders. It’s true that stats no longer mean so much when the going gets tough. However, looking at the numbers, it seemed as if James was almost unstoppable, especially with those dramatic chase-down blocks.
Now, the Warriors are brushing off their defeat by not dwelling in the past, even booking Kevin Durant to beef up the team.
As for James, he should consider opening a training camp for basketball enthusiasts post-retirement to pass on the torch.