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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4. 2016 NBA Finals Game Five vs. Golden State Warriors

The Cleveland Cavaliers were back in the NBA Finals after falling short in 2015. In a rematch with the Golden State Warriors, but this time Cleveland entered without any significant injuries.

With Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving healthy this time, there were no excuses anymore; however, the Golden State Warriors had improved and were having a legendary season. They set the NBA record with 73 wins and had just overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After a tough loss in Game Four, the Cavaliers were trailing the series 3-1 and things were looking bleak. No team had ever come back from 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and the Cavs were one loss away from losing back-to-back NBA Finals to the same opponent.

This time around, it was a much more concerning outlook if they lost. The Cavaliers were completely healthy and out of excuses, if they lost twice to the Warriors, the consensus would be that the Warriors were simply better. Would they ever get over the hump? Would LeBron leave again if this team didn’t have what it takes?

The stage was set for Game Five in Oakland, California. The Cavs would have to win on the road to keep the series alive, but good news did come before the game. Draymond Green was suspended for the flagrant foul he committed in Game Four, taking the Warriors' best defender out of the picture. With their backs against the wall, the Cleveland Cavaliers rose to the occasion, specifically their top two stars. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had one of the greatest duo performances in NBA Finals history. 

The first half was a complete shootout and was tied at 61 by the break. LeBron and Kyrie were unstoppable, LeBron with 25 points and Kyrie with 18. On the other side, Klay Thompson was on track to have another one of his legendary postseason performances. He was 6-of-8 from three-point range and had 26 points at the half. It seemed as if it was going to be a tight game until the finish. But, the Cavaliers took control in the second half. Klay wasn’t able to hit another three-pointer for the rest of the game, and the Warriors offense slowed down to a mere 36 points in the second half.

For Cleveland, LeBron and Kyrie were just getting started. They both continued to rise to the occasion, hitting big shot after big shot. The Cavaliers would get a huge Game Five win to the score of 112-97 and brought the series closer with a 3-2 record. LeBron and Kyrie had the sports world buzzing as they each scored 41 points. The Cavs were still alive and now felt a lot more hope after seeing what their two superstars were capable of together.

3. 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. Game 2 vs Orlando Magic

Hopping farther back in the time machine, 2009 was a very fun and special season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They won an NBA-high 66 games, and LeBron James became the first Cavalier to ever win the MVP award at the young age of 24 years old.

Additionally, Mo Williams made his lone All-Star team, and Delonte West was in the midst of his prime. The future was looking promising, and it was one of the most exciting and bright times to be a Cavaliers fan.

After cruising to the Eastern Conference Finals they felt they had caught a break after the Orlando Magic knocked off the defending champions in the Boston Celtics. Instead, the Cavs, as well as the rest of the NBA, seemed to have underestimated the Magic who were led by young superstar Dwight Howard.

In Game One, the Cavaliers blew a 15-point halftime lead, and the Magic escaped with a 107-106 victory. Losing Game One on their home court was big, and the Cavs needed to respond with a Game Two victory to avoid falling too far into a dangerous deficit.

Like the first game, the Cavaliers jumped out to another early lead. The Cavs were up 43-20 in the middle of the second quarter, but they started experiencing déjà vu. The Magic slowly but surely clawed their way back in the game, and with only five minutes left in the final period, the game was tied at 86. The Magic did not have a lead in the entire game until Hedo Turkoglu hit a fadeaway jumper with one second left to take a 95-93 lead.

It felt like a hard punch to the gut for the Cavaliers community. They were about to blow two double-digit leads in a row and go down 2-0 in a series where they had home-court advantage. The anger, stress, and fear were visible on the fans during the timeout following the shot, but their moods were about to change. With only a single second on the clock, LeBron caught a pass at the top of the arc and hit a fading three-pointer to win the game.

The players' faces showed pure joy as LeBron tried to run away in excitement before his teammates grabbed and mauled him in celebration. To this day, it might be the loudest that arena has ever been. It was LeBron’s signature moment of his career at the time, silencing those who said he was not clutch in the final moments. LeBron totaled 35 points, five assists and four rebounds for the game. The Cavaliers would lose the series in six games, but nothing can take away how great this experience was for Cavs fans everywhere.