Back in 2007, LeBron, then just 22, had already solidified himself as one of the biggest and brightest young stars in the NBA. He had gone No. 1 overall to the Cavaliers during the 2003 NBA Draft, won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2004, and picked up a handful of individual accolades over his first few NBA seasons. But unfortunately, it hadn’t translated into much playoff success for the Cavaliers yet.
The 2007 series between the Cavaliers and Pistons started out the same way their 2006 matchup did. The Pistons beat the Cavaliers in Games 1 and 2 to take a 2-0 lead at home. Then, the Cavaliers rebounded in Cleveland to win Games 3 and 4 to tie the series 2-2. LeBron played particularly well in Game 4 when he scored 25 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter. He later revealed that he told his teammates that he was ready to shake off the fourth quarter struggles he endured earlier in the series to lead them to a win.
“I told my teammates, ‘Get me to the fourth and if it’s close, and I’ll try my best to win,’” he said, as it was a sign of things to come.
In game 5 at Detroit with 6:05 remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter and the Cavs leading 79-78, LeBron James had 19 points, well short of his regular-season average (27.3 points per game). Then, James took his game to another level.
Through 16 minutes of the fourth quarter and two overtime periods, James scored 29 of Cleveland’s final 30 points, leading the Cavs to a 109-107 double-overtime victory. The one non-James point was provided by Drew Gooden, who made one of two at the free-throw line with 2:49 left in the fourth quarter. LeBron had scored 25 straight points for the Cavaliers at one point which was something unseen before.
Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince all tried to stop him, but James torched them all.
“We threw everything we had at him,” Billups said after the game. “We just couldn’t stop him.”
Cleveland closed out the series with a 98-82 win in Game 6. The Spurs swept the Cavs in the Finals, but the fact that James dragged the likes of Gooden, Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao to a championship series is an impressive accomplishment by itself.