The NBA Finals That Never Was



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The summer of 2006 for one Kobe Bryant was probably one he wish he could’ve avoided. On July 16, Kobe underwent knee surgery that would force him out of the FIBA World Championships and would even sideline him for the first 5 games of the season. When Kobe returned, he was back at a high level, coming off his highest career points per game average, he had another great year, averaging 31.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 46% shooting from the field. The Lakers held steady throughout the season, but two separate 6 game losing streaks in February and March put them on the brink of missing the playoffs. Following the second 6 game losing streak, the Lakers rattled off 5 wins in a row with Kobe scoring 43 or more points in each of the 5 games. The Lakers were able to finish 42-49 and hold on to the 7 seed, despite going 4-6 down the stretch to end the season. Kobe, along with Lamar Odom (16/10/5/46%), the Lakers would face off against familiar foe and 2 seed Phoenix Suns. The Suns would prove to be too much and knocked the Lakers out in the first round for the second straight year. With LeBron and the Cavs making the Finals, we are faced with the first year of the ultimate ‘what if’ question. The Cavs finished the season 50-32, 8 games better than the Lakers. The two teams faced off twice in the regular season, in the same week, February 11th and February 15th, with the Cavs winning both games, one in LA and the other in Cleveland. Kobe averaged 35/7/6 on 46% shooting while LeBron put up 28/6/4 on 47%. We now pretend that somehow the 7 seed Lakers were able to make it past the Suns and Spurs to make the NBA Finals. I look back on 2007 and see how LeBron was swept after beating the Pistons in a grind it out, hard fought series. I think that has plenty to do with the reason the Cavs were unable to prevail. Even though LeBron had a hard fought ECF, Kobe would’ve had even more trouble going through Phoenix and San Antonio. For that reason and for the Cavs having a slightly better team with home court advantage I’d give the Cavs the 2007 Championship over the Lakers in 7 games.



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