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On this date: LeBron James helps even NBA Finals vs. Warriors

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LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming with a happy ending.

In his first season back, he led them to the 2015 NBA Finals, but without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, both of whom were injured, the Cavs fell to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in six games.

The following season was chaotic. Head coach David Blatt was fired and replaced by assistant Tyronn Lue. The team played well under him and returned to the championship series for a rematch with the Warriors.

Golden State had won a record 73 games and was favored over James’ crew. Early on, there was no doubt why: The Warriors easily took a 3-1 series lead.

But James rallied his troops. He scored 41 points in Game 5 to lead the Cavs to a lopsided win. Kyrie Irving also had 41 points in the same contest in one of the better finals performances by a tandem.

Then in Game 6 back in Cleveland, James had another 41 points, to go along with 11 assists and eight rebounds in a 115-101 Cavs win.

To that point in his career, he had been criticized for shrinking in high-pressure situations such as this, but he came through in a giant way.

In doing so, he had somehow forced a winner-take-all Game 7 back in California. But James and the Cavs were just getting started.

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