10 greatest Cleveland Cavaliers playoff performances of this century

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a lot of memorable playoff runs since they drafted LeBron James in 2003. They have made the NBA Finals 5 times, and even won the Championship in the Iconic 2016 NBA Finals, where they overcame a 3-1 deficit versus the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. Let's take a trip down memory lane and countdown the 10 best Cavs playoff games since 2000.
Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 6
Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 6 / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages
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8. 2006 Eastern Conference First Round Game Five vs. Washington Wizards

This instant classic was Lebron James’ first NBA Playoffs moment of his career.

A 21-year-old LeBron James led the Cavaliers back to the playoffs for the first time since 1998. They were in a close series with the Washington Wizards, who prime Gilbert Arenas led. The series was tied at 2-2, setting up a pivotal Game Five in Cleveland. Even though it was LeBron’s first postseason experience, he had no fear in his body when the night came. 

LeBron and Gilbert dueled for all four quarters, and the game was tied up and heading to overtime. Washington took control early in overtime, forcing the Cavaliers into a corner. The Cavs trailed the Wizards 120-119 with 3.6 seconds remaining in OT. With time expiring quick, LeBron drove down the left baseline and made a go-ahead layup with 0.9 seconds remaining leaving the Wizards with no timeouts left.

After a failed full-court shot from the Wizards, the Cleveland crowd erupted and celebrated the 3-2 series lead and the first real playoff moment for their young star. Gilbert Arenas had 44 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. LeBron James totaled 45 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Larry Hughes added 24 points against his former team. The Cavaliers would later win the series in 6 games, their first playoff series victory since 1993. 

7. 2018 Eastern Conference First Round Game Five vs. Indiana Pacers

Another game from the exciting 2018 postseason came in the first round of the Cavaliers' campaign. In LeBron’s return to Cleveland, they never faced any challenges in the first round, sweeping their opponents from 2015 to 2017; however, this was not the case in 2018.

They were matched up with a hungry Indiana Pacers team, and Victor Oladipo was playing the best basketball of his career. For the series, the Pacers had seven players average double-digit points, and Oladipo averaged 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and six assists a game on 40 percent three-point shooting. The Pacers were giving the Cavaliers everything they could handle, setting up for a pivotal Game Five in Cleveland with the series tied 2-2.

This was a close game all the way, with some unlikely players stepping up as big contributors. Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points off the bench for the Pacers. For the Cavs, Kyle Korver hit five threes and scored 19 points. Nonetheless, this game will be remembered for its iconic finish.

The game was tied at 95, and the Pacers had the ball with a few more seconds on the game clock than the shot clock. With under 10 seconds left in the game, Victor Oladipo drove against LeBron James and attempted a layup on the left side. LeBron makes a game-saving block against the backboard, the Cavs grab the rebound and call a timeout with just three seconds left. Then, right after swatting away Oladipo’s shot, LeBron would hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc at the buzzer. The Cleveland crowd erupted as the Cavs secured a 3-2 series lead. The Cavs would go on to win the series in seven games.