That came back in 2016 when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love guided the club to the title over the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. That 2016 Cavs squad is the only team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals.
LeBron is head and shoulders the best player in Cavs franchise history. However, was The King part of each of the five best teams in Cleveland history?
Let’s find out by ranking the five best teams in Cavs franchise history.
5. 2006-07 Cavs
The Cavs won 50 games during the regular season under the guidance of head coach Mike Brown. LeBron averaged 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists during the regular season.
The Cavs had the fifth-best defense, as the team was giving up only 92.9 points a night. Cleveland swept the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, took out the New Jersey Nets in six games in the second round and bounced the Detroit Pistons in the conference finals in six games. James scored the Cavs’ final 25 points in a double-overtime victory in a pivotal Game 5 of that Pistons series.
In the 2007 NBA Finals, though, a young LeBron wasn’t able to defeat the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan and Co. swept the Cavs for James’ first Finals loss.
4. 2014-15 Cavs
This was LeBron’s first season back in Cleveland after his four-year run with the Miami Heat. The Cavs won 53 games despite getting off to a rocky start and James not always seeing eye to eye with head coach David Blatt.
James put up 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game during the regular season, Irving averaged 21.7 points and 5.2 assists, while Love registered averages of 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.
The Cavs swept the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2015 playoffs but lost Love for the rest of the postseason after the All-Star suffered a dislocated shoulder.
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls gave the Cavs a scare in the second round by going up 2-1. However, LeBron hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in Game 4 in Chicago to tie the series at 2-2. Cleveland then won Games 5 and 6 to send the Bulls home.
The Cavs swept the Atlanta Hawks in the conference finals to reach the NBA Finals. Irving suffered a serious knee injury in Game 1 after bumping knees with Warriors star Klay Thompson, though. Uncle Drew required surgery, too.
LeBron was his usual stellar self in the Finals against the Dubs. However, since he didn’t have Irving or Love, James wasn’t able to rally the troops to a win. The Warriors won the series in six games.
3. 2017-18 Cavs
This Cavs team started out the season with a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, JR Smith, LeBron James, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love. Cleveland had to trade Kyrie Irving to Boston after Uncle Drew requested a trade from the Cavs. General manager Koby Altman acquired Isaiah Thomas and Crowder from the Celtics.
This team also had Dwyane Wade on it. However, Rose, Wade and Thomas were all bad fits on the Cavs, so Altman wound up trading all three players at the 2018 trade deadline. He acquired Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers, Rodney Hood from the Utah Jazz and George Hill from the Sacramento Kings.
The Cavs finished the season with 50 wins. They defeated the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, swept the Toronto Raptors in the second round and then got past the Celtics in the conference finals in seven epic games. Irving wasn’t able to play since he needed another knee surgery.
LeBron’s 2018 playoff run is one of the best in NBA history. Once the Cavs got to the Finals, though, they were completely outmatched by the Warriors, who won in a sweep.
James had 51 points in Game 1 but JR Smith’s blunder after Hill’s missed free throw was too much for The King to overcome.
2. 2016-17 Cavs
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been on record saying he thinks this is LeBron’s best Cavs team. The squad won 51 games during the regular season and coasted through the 2017 playoffs by defeating the Pacers, Raptors and Celtics.
Golden State won the Finals in five games since the addition of Kevin Durant made the team impossible to defend.
1. 2015-16 Cavs
Tyronn Lue replaced David Blatt in the middle of the season … and the rest is history.
The Cavs got to the Finals by defeating the Pistons, Hawks and Raptors in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The team then fell down 3-1 to the Warriors in the Finals, and it appeared the Dubs were going to finish off their magical 73-9 season.
That’s when LeBron and Irving turned into superheroes. Both superstars had 41 points in the Game 5 win at Oracle Arena. After the Cavs won Game 6 at home, LeBron knew the Warriors’ mentality was shot.
In Game 7, James had the block of the decade on Andre Iguodala, setting up Irving’s game-winning 3-pointer over Curry.