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​Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals Recap 2016

Cavs Win 4-2

The Bellow Heard Round the World. Lebron James reacts after making a fancy move to the bucket for the And-One jam in Game 1.
Chad W. Lutz
​If I were a superstitious man, I'd say this morning's rain showers blanketing Northeast Ohio are a bad omen. But, then I remember that Cleveland is a dreary place and is on the habitual receiving end of equally dreary forecasts. This is just the status quo. And I think to myself, if it wasn't raining, that would actually be a bad omen. So, just to recap, we've got the cosmos squared away. Let's get right to the heart of this thing.

After dominating the Toronto Raptors in brutal fashion through the first two games of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, Lebron and his Merry Band of Basketballers took their talents up North. At this point, most analysts had written the Raptors, who had reached their first conference finals in franchise history, completely off. But Kyle Lowry and Co. woke up in Games 3 and 4 to give the Cavs their first losses, and real road blocks, of the playoffs. Toronto stormed back to even the series through four games at two apiece and looked as if they had all the momentum in the series, thanks, in large part, to the otherworldly (albeit short-lived) play of Bismack Biyombo. 
The Raptor's Bismack Biyombo (8) plays a 48-minute game of keep-away from the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Toronto.
​In Game 3, the Congolese center-forward hauled in a franchise record 26 rebounds and seemed absolutely unstoppable. In Game 4, Biyombo blocked an alley-oop dunk attempt from none other than No. 23. With the Raptors already up 57-39 heading into the half, the block was electrifying, if only serving to shatter parts of our hearts back here in Cleveland. By the end of the series, I'm fairly certain we all learned to love to hate his knowing smile.

Good for you for loving the game. Still smiling now?

But the Cavaliers bounced back from two straight losses in Canada to absolutely annihilate the Raptors at home in Game 5. Heading into the series, the Raptors had never been down, let alone lost, by thirty points at any time in their franchise history. However, the Game 5 loss marked the second occasion in a week that Toronto fell by thirty or more. The Wine and Gold took the go ahead game by a final score of 116-78 and never looked back.

​In between the bounce back, the media frenzied, nerves were shot, commitments were put to question, and the whole scene seemed to be teetering on a giant, invisible edge. In retrospect, the Cavs simply had two bad games at the same time Toronto had two really good games, perhaps the best in franchise history. Definitely the most meaningful in the young franchise's brief timeline, but, nevertheless, the Wine and Gold took Games 5 and 6 to become the 2016 Eastern Conference Champions.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue hoists the Eastern Conference Championship Trophy presented by human mascot Austin Carr (right, purple tie).The win clinched a second trip the NBA Finals in as many years.
​Tonight begins a new test: winning a championship, something that's been a long-held dream of just about every Northeast Ohioan for the past fifty-two years. Many believe this could be the year, although, I don't know why you wouldn't until it wasn't the year, but there seems to be more hubbub surrounding the Cavs title chances this year than in any of the other two Finals they've played in as a franchise. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are healthy and arguably at the tops of their respective games, our bench is deeper thanks to the likes of Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, and one look in the eyes of the players as a whole and there's a sense they're more fiery and determined than ever.

The gatekeepers are the pesky Golden State Warriors, who set the record for most wins going 73-9 in the regular season. Down three games to one in the Western Conference Finals series against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City, the Warriors battled back to not only even the series but win it in seven games. Golden State is a dangerous team with a lot of different weapons. The only real Achilles heals they have are at center, with an injury-prone and severely limited Andrew Bogut probably playing in his final NBA series, and Anderson Varejao as his backup. Both are playing reduced minutes, with the Warriors MO to play small ball and shoot the lights out. Over 90% of the time they do. In order to win, Cleveland has to find a way to play damage control.

Only four wins stand between us and an NBA Championship. Are you in?

​NBA Finals Schedule:
Game 1 @ Golden State 6/2 at 9:00pm
Game 2 @ Golden State 6/5 at 8:00pm
Game 3 vs. Golden State 6/8 at 9:00pm
Game 4 vs. Golden State 6/10 at 9:00pm
Game 5 @ Golden State 6/13 at 9:00pm (if necessary)
Game 6 vs. Golden State 6/16 at 9:00pm (if necessary)
Game 7 @ Golden State 6/19 at 8:00pm (if necessary)