Kyrie Irving helped carry the Cavaliers to their third straight NBA Finals, but couldn't get them over the hump for a second consecutive title.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
After taking the Cavaliers all the way back from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA championship last season, the magic ran out for Irving and Cleveland.
Despite nearly 30 points a game from Irving alongside LeBron James, the Cavaliers were overwhelmed by the Golden State Warriors, capturing their second title in three seasons with a 129-120 Game 5 win Monday.
As Irving went, Cleveland went. When he was playing strong defense on the Warriors' sharpshooters and shooting well, he gave James a worthy sidekick to compete with Golden State's depth.
In Game 4 Friday, his 40 points, including 7-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc, helped the Cavaliers avoid a sweep and deny the Warriors the first perfect postseason in history. His 38-point effort in Game 3 kept Cleveland close, but it wasn't enough in
But when he struggled, the Cavaliers tanked.
His mediocre shooting effort in Games 1 and 2—shooting just 40.0 percent from the field—and repeated struggles on defense doomed Cleveland, which combined to give up 245 points and fall by an average of more than 20 points in the first pair of games.
The Cavaliers will likely look for another piece this offseason to pair alongside Irving and James in order to compete with the dominant Warriors—who quite simply outmatched Cleveland throughout the series.
Dahntay Jones, Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite only playing in two regular season games the last two years, the regular at the end of the Cavaliers’ bench just can’t stay out of the headlines.
After racking up two technicals and an ejection in a brief appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Raptors and earning himself a $6,000 fine—nearly all of his $9,127 regular season salary —James paid for Jones’ shenanigans but didn’t exactly endorse the 12-year veteran’s actions.
"Enough is enough,” James said. “Stop getting kicked out against Toronto so I can stop paying your damn fines."
James couldn’t have been too thrilled when Jones racked up another fine in the Finals—this time without logging a minute. Jones earned a $3,000 fine after getting a technical for jawing off from the bench in Game 4, which left just $127 in regular season salary left over for the former Blue Devil.
Dahntay Jones gonna get kicked out the game without playing a minute pic.twitter.com/TAU68CtqbL— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 10, 2017
In response, fans established a GoFundMe to help Jones pay his fines—which as of 12:30 a.m. EST Tuesday had earned just $335.
When he was actually on the court, he made an impact for Cleveland—in mop-up duty. He scored nine points in 11 minutes in the finals, including a seven-point outburst in four minutes in a Game 1 loss.