CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving missed all but one game in the 2015 NBA Finals because of fractured kneecap, but he more than made up for it just one year later.
With just 53 seconds to play and the score tied in Game 7, Irving hit the eventual game-winning three-pointer, a fall-away pull-up attempt from the right wing that was heavily defended by two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, and his 25-foot triple led to a 93-89 win over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Sunday night.
Irving scored 26 points and pulled down six rebounds to go along with a blocked shot and steal in 43 minutes of play in the series-clinching win. Irving buried 10 of his 23 attempts from the field, including two of his five three-pointers, and all four of his free throws in the winning effort.
At one point in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were down by as many as eight points when Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson hit a fade-away jumper, but behind Irving’s efforts and J.R. Smith’s three-point shooting, they stormed back with a 19-5 run, including 12 straight points, and took a 65-59 lead.
The Cavaliers converted 11 of their 21 shots from the field in the third quarter, including three of their six looks from three-point range after knocking down just one of their 14 attempts from long distance during the first half of play.
Irving led the way with 12 points on four-of-eight shooting, and had a late three-point play that gave the Cavaliers a six-point advantage.
During The Finals, Irving averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals over 39 minutes of play per game. Irving converted 46.8 percent of his attempts from the field and 40.5 percent of his three-pointers against the Warriors.
Despite being down, 2-0 and 3-1, in the best-of-seven series against the reigning league champion Warriors, the Cavaliers fought their way to three straight wins, including two inside Oracle Arena, where the Warriors had lost just three times combined through the regular season and playoffs.
It is the Cavaliers’ first-ever NBA Championship and the first major sports title for the city of Cleveland since the Browns took home the NFL Championship with an upset win over the Baltimore Colts in December of 1964.
By beating Golden State Sunday night, Irving and the Cavaliers became the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals and win the championship.