In the 2017 Finals, the Cavaliers were outclassed by the Warriors and lost in five games as a result. For most of five games — sans a big Game 4 win — Cleveland had no answer for everything Golden State threw at them. Whereas last year the Cavs were able to respond to going down 3-1 to come back and win the title, going down 3-0 was too much. Kevin Durant was too much, as was Stephen Curry and everything else the Warriors threw at them. Even when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had the type of performances Cleveland used to win last year, it wasn’t enough. It sucks, and it in the moment feels like a referendum on how the Cavs built this team, but it’s hard to compete when a 73 win team adds a player of Durant’s caliber.
This series also won’t go down as a failure for LeBron like the 2011 Finals were either. Not unlike the 2015 Finals where the Cavs lost to the Warriors in six games, James carried the Cavs throughout. For all five games, he was the main reason the games stayed at all close.
It came, too, after LeBron dominated the Pacers, Raptors and Celtics aside from his off performance in Game 3 against Boston. Again this year, LeBron dominated the East. Next, he (and James Jones, should he return) is poised to make his eighth straight Finals and the Cavs their fourth. For a franchise that was among the league’s worst a pre-LeBron’s return, this is not at all a bad spot to be in.
But what set up next season will be telling. It’s possible we see this match-up again next year for the fourth time. And after this year, it’s on the Cavs to improve and make a possible match-up more competitive than it was this year.