LeBron James Timehop: The Ghosts Of NBA Finals Past

Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

For all the talk this year of NBA Finals firsts (first championships, first-year coaches, first 123-point performance through three games) it is important to remember that for one player, the Finals are all too familiar. With 2-3  career record in the NBA Championship Series, LeBron James has been here before. And 2-3 is a record the Cavs are hoping to avoid Sunday night.

When looking for what to expect from LeBron on Sunday, it is best to consider his past.

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Timehop: 1 Year Ago – June 12, 2014, NBA Finals Game 4

Lebron James and company are served a sobering loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4, 107-86. The Spurs put on clinic in team basketball en route to a 3-1 series lead. LeBron led his team with 28 points, eight rebounds, and two assists but the rest of the Miami Heat were unable to match the Spurs offense with 25 assists, and a record point for every man on the roster.

2 days later: The San Antonio would be crowned NBA champions.

2 weeks later: LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Heat, kicking off a summer free agency that would bring LeBron back to Cleveland.

Timehop: 2 Years Ago – June 13, 2013, NBA Finals Game 4

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took command of Game 4, defeating the Spurs, 109-93, and tying the series 2-2. With a combined 85 points, LeBron, Wade, and Chris Bosh showed the full strength of the Big 3. The Spurs would take the series to 3-2 the following game, but a historic 3-pointer from Ray Allen in Game 6 showed how great LeBron can be when he has the help he needs.

Miami would win in seven games.

Timehop: 4 Years Ago – June 12, 2011, NBA Finals Game 6

The Miami Heat exit the 2011 NBA Finals, losing the series 4-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. Miami collapsed from a 2-1 series lead, as the Mavericks won their first championship. LeBron’s move to Miami was called into question, as he averaged just 17 points a game for the series.

But this would mark the first of five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, a series where he’d respond in 2012 with a five-game rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Fun fact: James Jones would follow LeBron to 5 repeat trips to the NBA Finals, where he is 2-2. But he did not play in the 2011 Finals.

Timehop: 8 Years Ago – June 13, 2007, NBA Finals Game 3

LeBron would get his first taste of the NBA finals in 2007 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. A defensively dominant Spurs shut down LeBron and the Cavs in Game 3, 75-72. This was the second-lowest scoring game in NBA Finals history. The Spurs would complete the sweep soon after.

The only other remaining Cavs player from the 2007 run? Anderson Varejao.

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The question remains: How will this year’s NBA Finals be remembered?

With series tied 2-2 going back to Oakland for Sunday’s game, all eyes will be on the remaining member of Cleveland’s big three, LeBron James.

Will LeBron find the offensive help he needs in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert?

Or will the Warriors follow in the footsteps of the Mavericks and finish the Cavs in six games?

If I had to predict what a Game 5 might look like, I’d go back to the performance that first got LeBron to the Finals in 2007, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He scored 29 of the Cavaliers’ last 30 points in a double-overtime victory. LeBron’s line–48 points, nine rebounds, seven assists.

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