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The Big Three

The "Big Three" is a trio of basketball players for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) that played together since the 2014–15 NBA season. The "Big Three" consisted of Kyrie IrvingLeBron James, and Kevin Love. The "Big Three" led the Cleveland Cavaliers to two NBA Finals appearances during their time together so far and led the Cavaliers to win the 2016 NBA Championship.

Players Edit

LeBron James Edit

Main article: LeBron James

LeBroon James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft.[1] In his NBA Debut, LeBron James set an NBA record for most points scored by a high school draftee be scoring 25 points in his debut.[2] LeBron James would become just the third rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists during his rookie year,[3] and he would be named NBA Rookie of the Year for that season.[4]

On March 20, 2005, LeBron James had a 56-point game, setting the Cavaliers single game scoring record.[5] LeBron James would be an NBA All-Star and would be named to the All-NBA Second Team that season, averaging 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game that season.[4]

The following season, averaging 31.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game, LeBron James would finish second in NBA MVP voting to Steve Nash, and he would lead the Cavaliers to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.[4] In his postseason debut, LeBron James would have a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists to lead the Cavaliers to a 97-86 victory over the Washington Wizards.[6] In Game 3, LeBron James would score a playoff-record 41 points and would also hit a buzzer-beater to give the Cavaliers a 97-96 win over the Wizards.[7] LeBron James would score 45 points in Game 5 and would hit another buzzer-beating shot in overtime to give the Cavaliers a 121-120 overtime win over the Wizards.[8] LeBron James would have a 32-point effort in Game 6 to lead the Cavaliers to a 114-113 overtime win over the Wizards and finish off the series in six games.[9] The Cavaliers would ultimately loose to the Detroit Pistons in a seven-game series, and would be eliminated from the postseason.

LeBron James led the Cavaliers to another playoff appearance the following year. In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons, LeBron James had a playoff career-high 48 points as he scored the final 25 points for the Cavaliers in that game, including all 18 in overtime and he hit the game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds left in the second overtime period to lead the Cavaliers to a 109-107 double-overtime win over the Pistons to take a 3-2 series lead.[10] The Cavaliers would go on to win Game 6 to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. However, the Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

The following season, LeBron James would set the Cleveland Cavaliers all-time scoring record, would set the team record for single-season triple-doubles with seven triple-doubles that season, and would win the NBA scoring title that season by averaging 30 points that season. LeBron James would lead the Cavaliers to a first-round series win against the Wizards, and would then face the Boston Celtics in the second round. In the decisive seventh game of that series, LeBron James scored 45 points, but his team could not overcome Paul Pierce's 41 points as the Cavaliers lost to the Celtics 97-92 and were eliminated from the playoffs.[11]

The following season, LeBron James would win his first NBA MVP award with 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game[12] and would lead the Cavaliers to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. LeBron James led the Cavaliers to ease through the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs with sweeps over the Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks to earn a trip to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James would start off the series strong by scoring 49 points in Game 1, but despite that, the Cavaliers fell to the Orlando Magic 107-106.[13] In Game 2, LeBron James would hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Cavaliers a 96-95 victory over the Magic and even the series at 1-1.[14] LeBron James would have a strong series averaging 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8 assists per game in the Eastern Conference Finals, but despite that, the Cavaliers fell to the Magic in six games and would miss the NBA Finals.[15]

LeBron James would win his second consecutive NBA MVP award the following season with 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, a career-high 8.6 assists per game, 1.6 steals, and 1 block per game and shooting 50 percent[16] and would again lead the Cavaliers to the playoffs. LeBron James would lead the Cavaliers to a win over the Chicago Bulls in five games, but his team then lost to the Celtics in six games, as he received boos from Cleveland's home crowd after an embarrassing Game 5 defeat as he had just 15 points and went 3-for-14 shooting, which led him to sign with the Miami Heat the following season.[17]

On July 8, 2010, LeBron James announced on his TV show called The Decision that he would sign with the Miami Heat.[18] There, he would team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a "Big Three". LeBron James would lead the Heat to the NBA Finals in his first season down south, but the Heat would lose to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

In the lockout-shortened 2011–12 NBA season, LeBron James would average 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game and would shoot 53 percent to win his third NBA MVP award.[19] In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James lad 40 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists to lead the Heat to a 101-93 win over the Pacers and event he series 2-2.[20] The Heat would go on to win the series in six games and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. With the Heat trailing the series 3-2, LeBron James would have a 45-point performance and would couple it with 15 rebounds and five assists to lead the Heat to a 98-79 win over the Celtics and force a Game 7.[21] The Heat would end up winning Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year. LeBron James would lead the Heat to a five-game series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals and he would be unanimously named NBA Finals MVP for that season averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game that series.[22]

The following season, LeBron James would win his fourth NBA MVP award averaging 26.8 points, 8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game on 56.5 percent shooting and would lead the MiamI heat to a 27-game winning streak, which was the third-longest winning streak in NBA history, and a franchise and league-best 66-16 record. In Game 1 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers, LeBron James hit a buzzer-beating layup in overtime to seal a 103-102 overtime win for the Pacers in Game 1.[23]LeBron James would lead the Heat to a seven-game series win over the Pacers to advance to the 2013 NBA Finals. In Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, with the Heat trailing 2-3, LeBron James led the Miami heat to a fourth-quarter comeback and would hit the go-ahead floater with 1:43 left on overtime to give the Miami Heat a 101-100 lead and the Heat would go on to win 103-11 in overtime to force a Game 7.[24] In Game 7, LeBron James scored 37 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 95-88 win over the Spurs and their second consecutive NBA Championship.[25] LeBron James would be named NBA Finals MVP for that series.[26]

The following season, LeBron James would lead the Heat to their fourth consecutive finals appearance which included scoring a career-high 61 points in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats[27] and tying a playoff career-high 49 points in Game 4 of their series against the Brooklyn Nets[28] In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James suffered leg cramps due to the heat inside AT&T Center, which caused him to sit out most of the fourth quarter as the Heat lost to the Spurs 110-95.[29] In Game 2, LeBron James would score 35 points and shoot at 64 percent to lead the Meat to a 98-96 win over the Spurs to tie the series at 2-2.[30] The Spurs would win the next three games and would end the Miami Heat's quest for a three-peat.

Kevin Love Edit

Main article: Kevin Love

Prior to being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love played one year of college basketball with the UCLA Bruins and he was named Pac-10 Player of the Year as he led UCLA to the 2008 Final Four.

Love would be drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, then immediately traded to the Timberwolves. During his six seasons with the Timberwolves, Kevin Love averaged 19.2 points per game, and had three seasons where he averaged 20-plus points per game, and 12.2 rebounds per game,[31] he would be a three-time NBA All-Star and would trice be named to the All-NBA Second Team, but he was never able to lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs. On August 23, 2014, Love was traded to the Cavs in a three-team trade involving the Cavs, Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers that also sent the Cavs' number one overall pick in that year's draft, Andrew Wiggins to the Wolves.

Kyrie Irving Edit

Main article: Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving played an injury-calaberd season at Duke before being drafted by the Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

During his first three seasons with the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving would be named 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year followed by being an NBA All-Star for the next two seasons and being named 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP,[32] and he averaged 20.7 points during his first three seasons,[33] but despite these strong performances, Kyrie Irving could not get the Cavaliers into the playoffs before being joined by LeBron James and Kevin Love.

"Big Three" era Edit

On July 11, 2014, LeBron James announced that he would rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers.[34] A month later, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love in a three team deal in which Minnesota received Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, who were the first overall pick in the 2013 and 2014 NBA draft, respectively, from Cleveland and Thaddeus Young from the Philadelphia 76ers, and Philadelphia received Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved from Minnesota and a 2015 first-round draft pick from Cleveland, thus forming the "Big Three" of James, Love, and Irving.[35]

The Cleveland Cavaliers unexpectedly got off to a 19-20 start in their first 39 games, which included a stretch in which they went 2-10 in 12 games beginning with a Christmas Day loss to James's former team, the Miami Heat. The Cavaliers would then turn it around by making a pair of trades to get support players for the Big Three. On January 5, 2015, the Cavaliers traded Dion Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk in a three team trade in which they received Iman Shumpert and J. R. Smith from the Knicks and a 2015 first-round draft pick from the Thunder.[36] On January 7, 2015, the Cavaliers traded two 2015 first-round draft picks to the Denver Nuggets for Timofey Mozgov and a 2015 second-round draft pick.[37] These trades proved to be beneficial as the Cavaliers then ended up going 34–9 in their last 43 games to finish with a 53-29 record and win the Central Division title and the #2 seed in the playoffs.

The "Big Three" led the Cavaliers to a four-game sweep over the Celtics, however, Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder when he got tangled with the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk while battling for a loose ball in the first quarter of Game 4.[38][39] In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bulls, LeBron James hit a buzzer-beating jumper to give the Cavaliers a 86-84 win over the Bulls and even the series 2-2.[40] LeBron James would follow that with a 38-point performance in Game 5 to lead the Cavaliers to a 106-101 win over the Bulls and a 3-2 series lead.[41] The Cavaliers would go on to win Game 6 94-73 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Hawks, LeBron James scored 31 points to help lead the Cavaliers to a 97-89 win in Game 1.[42] However, Kyrie Irving would miss the next two games due to a knee injury. However, LeBron James was still able to lead his team to a victory in Game 2 with a 30-point performance to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 series lead heading home.[43] In Game 3, trailing 111-109 with 36.4 seconds left in overtime, LeBron James hit a three-pointer to give the Cavaliers a 112-111 lead and then he hit a layup with 12.8 left in overtime to give the Cavaliers a 1114-111 overtime in in Game 3 and a 3-0 series lead.[44] With Kyrie Irving back for Game 4, the Cavs eased out to a 118-88 victory over the Hawks to complete a series sweep and advance to the 2015 NBA Finals.

LeBron James had a strong performance in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with 44 points, however, the Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors 108-100 in overtime and Kyrie Irving suffered a serious knee injury which caused him to miss the rest of the NBA Finals.[45] LeBron James was able to overcome it for Game 2 as he had 39 points to lead the Cavaliers to a 95-93 overtime victory over the Warriors and their first NBA Finals single game win in franchise history.[46] LeBron James would keep it going through Game 3 as he had 40 points in Game 3 to lead the Cavaliers to a 96-91 win over the Warriors and a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.[47] However, Kyrie Irving's injury would take the toll for Game 4 as LeBron James was held to just 20 points in Game 4 and the Cavaliers lost 103-82 to the Warriors and the series was evened up at 2-2.[48] LeBron James bounced back with a 40-point performance in Game 5, but that was not enough as the Cavaliers fell to the Warriors 104-91 and now faced a 3-2 deficit.[49] LeBron James was strong once again in Game 6 with 32 points, but that did not save the Cavs as they fell to the Warriors 105-97.[50]

The following season, despite holding the best record in the Eastern Conference at 30-11 midway through the season, the Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt on January 22, 2016. He would be replaced by Tyronn Lue.[51] The Cavaliers would go on to finish with the best record in Eastern Conference at 57-25. Kyrie Irving was the hero for the Cavaliers in their first round series against the Pistons as he had 110 points in the four-game series, and made a three-pointer with less than a minute remaining to give the Cavaliers an eight-point lead and secure a 101-91 win for the Cavaliers for a 3-0 series lead,[52] and then in Game 4, Kyrie Irving scored 31 points including hitting a three-pointer to put the Cavaliers ahead 100-96 with less than a minute left which helped the Cavs secure a 100-98 win and a series sweep against the Pistons.[53] 

The Cavaliers, led by the "Big Three", then eased through their conference semifinal series against the Hawks with a four-game sweep to advance to the conference finals and they would then ease through a six-game series against the Toronto Raptors to reach the 2016 NBA Finals. The Cavaliers lost the first two games of the NBA Finals to the Warriors by a margin of 48 points. LeBron James would then get the Cavaliers back in the game with a 32-point performance in Game 3 to cut the deficit to 2-1.[54] The next game, despite a 34-point performance from Kyrie Irving and a double-double from LeBron James with 25 points and 13 rebounds, the Cavaliers fell to the Warriors 108-97 and were now facing a 3-1 deficit.[55] LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would each score 41 points in Game 5 to give the Cavaliers a 112-97 win in Game 5 and keep them alive in the NBA Finals.[56] 

LeBron James would keep his dominance going through Game 6 with a 41-point performance to give the Cavaliers a 115-101 win over the Wrriors and become the third team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals to force a Game 7.[57] in Game 7, with 1:50 remaining in the game, LeBron James blocked Andre Iguodala's potential go-ahead layup to keep the game tied at 89-89 and then, Kyrie Irving hit a three-pointer with less than a minute remaining to put the Cavaliers ahead 92-89 and then, LeBron James hit the game-clinching free throw with 10.6 seconds left to give the Cavaliers a 93-89 win in Game 7 to end Cleveland's 52-year title drought with a 2016 NBA Championship.[58] LeBron James would be unanimously named NBA Finals MVP as he became the first player in league history to lead both teams in all five statistical categories for a playoff round.[59]

References[edit] Edit

  1. Jump up^

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