Ranking each NBA Finals of the decade from worst to best

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images /
10 of 11
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. 2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers beat Golden State Warriors (4-3)

Competitiveness: 9/10
Conclusion: 10/10
Overall excitement: 10/10
Average score: 9.7/10

Speaking of all-time great upsets in the NBA Finals, it’s time to talk about the greatest comeback in NBA history. The 2016 NBA Finals is iconic as it gets. This brawl between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will be talked about for decades to follow.

Let’s set the stage. Following the end of the 2015 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers spent all summer asking themselves “what if?”. Cleveland wasn’t the only city asking this. The entire NBA world had largely agreed the Warriors caught a break with the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, even if they had been the better regular season team. Some even felt the Dubs’ championship was a fluke.

This didn’t sit well with the Warriors. Once the season began, the Dubs decided to hush everybody up by getting off to a 24-0 start, the best opening stretch of all-time. Behind a legendary season from Stephen Curry (who became the league’s first ever unanimous MVP), the Dubs won a record 73 games and proved they were a dynasty in the making.

Back in Cleveland, the wheels were falling off. Multiple disappointing losses in the regular season led to the firing of head coach David Blatt. As the Dubs were riding a wave of success, the Cavs were being swallowed by the tide. The title of “best player in the world” was being handed to Curry as James became an afterthought.

By the time the NBA Finals finally started, the tension between these two teams was as high as it could get. The smack talk had lasted an entire year and it would all come down to this. The Dubs quickly smacked the Cavs through the first four games, taking a dominant 3-1 lead in what looked like a series that would end in a gentlemen’s sweep.

We all know what happened next. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for a legendary 82 points in Game 5 to keep the Cavaliers alive as Draymond Green sat out due to a suspension. James would again respond in Game 6 with 41 points and 11 assists. Despite multiple blowouts from both teams, the series came to a complete deadlock with both teams stuck at 621 total points and a decisive Game 7 to come.

This final game more than exceeded expectations. The contest went back and forth for most of the night, with the Dubs nearly running away with it in the third quarter. However, once the final four minutes of the game began, both teams went ice cold from the field.

Of course, this stalemate was broken when James completed his iconic chase-down block on Andre Iguodala, which was then followed by Irving’s step-back 3-pointer over Curry to take the lead. When the final buzzer rang and the Cavaliers began to celebrate, the Warriors were left shellshocked.

While many factors contributed to the outcome of this series, it was James’ performance that stands out above the rest. Leading both teams in every statistical category, the King was crowned Finals MVP and delivered on his promise to the city of Cleveland.

The only thing holding this series back from being considered the best of the decade is the fact that the first six games were all blowouts. Still, the sheer excitement of each story line and the explosive finale was enough to make this return from a 3-1 deficit memorable.