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Ranking the Top 5 Cleveland Cavaliers Individual Performances Since 2000

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had some memorable games this century. With LeBron James, Donovan Mitchell, and more. Come check out the top five Cleveland Cavaliers' individual performances since 2000.
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Ranking the Top 5 Cleveland Cavaliers Individual Performances Since 2000

In case you missed it, Donovan Mitchell scored a franchise-record 71 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a win over the Chicago Bulls. This... isn't something that happens every day. In fact, only seven players have ever notched 70+ points in an NBA game.

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Mitchell's offensive explosion was one-of-a-kind but the Cavaliers have a decorated history of iconic individual performances. Now is as good a time as ever to reflect on the last two decades and rank the top five best Cavs' performances of the 2000s.

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5. LeBron James scores 25 straight points (2007)

It didn't take long for LeBron James to prove he really was the "Chosen One." In just his fourth NBA season, at the ripe age of 22, James had Cleveland on the brink of going to the NBA Finals.

Standing in his way were the Detroit Pistons, a team that had just won a championship only three years prior and was still hungry for more. Detroit had eliminated Cleveland the season before.

This time, the Cavs and Pistons found themselves locked 2-2 with a pivotal Game 5 set in Detroit.

Calling it a Herculean performance would be an understatement, as LeBron scored the final 25 straight points for the Cavaliers. He was a one-man wrecking crew, finishing with 48 points and willing his team to a victory in double-overtime.

4. Kyrie Irving's 55 and 57-point eruptions (2015)

There aren't many players in NBA history that can match Kyrie Irving's shot-making abilities. His prowess as a dazzling ball handler and 3-point sniper was on full display in the 2014-15 season, with two of his best career performances coming this year.

It started in January, in a game where his superstar teammate (LeBron James) was on the sideline. The Cavaliers were hosting the Portland Trail Blazers and needed a little Kyrie magic.

Irving put on a show, scoring 55 points and drilling a career-high 11 3-pointers. His go-ahead basket buried the Blazers and sent the Cleveland crowd into a frenzy.

Just two months later, Irving would take the stage against the reigning champions in San Antonio. He surpassed his previous career-high, scoring 57 points and sending the game into overtime with an absurd 3-pointer at the buzzer. He finished a perfect 7-of-7 from the 3-point line.

These two games are full of ridiculous shot-making and serve as the ultimate reminder of how special Irving is as a scorer.

3. LeBron James scores 51 points in Game 1 (2018)

In the most bittersweet performance on the list, LeBron's 51-point opening in the 2018 NBA Finals is something we won't soon forget.

In a Playoff run where James scored 40+ points in seven different games, this is the one that felt the most complete.

He shot 19-of-32 from the field, a blistering 59%. There was seemingly no way for the Warriors, one of the most loaded teams of all time, to stop him. James was scoring in every way, knocking down multiple 3-pointers, including one from just a few steps inside of half-court.

While the Cleveland Cavaliers lost this game in overtime due to some mind-boggling mistakes, it was arguably the most perfect single game of James' career.

2. LeBron James lifts Cleveland back from a 3-1 deficit (2016)

Okay, this might be considered cheating, but near the top of our list is a three-game stretch from the King.

You know the story by now. Facing a 3-1 deficit, James and the Cavaliers stormed back to win the 2016 NBA Finals behind some of the greatest performances of all time from LeBron.

In Game 5, James and Kyrie Irving combined to pack an 82-point punch with both stars scoring 41 a piece. James did much more than just put the ball in the basket, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing 7 assists along the way.

Back in Cleveland for Game 6, James again scored 41 points to go with 11 assists and 8 rebounds. He would seal the deal with a triple-double in Game 7, securing perhaps the greatest defensive play in NBA history with his chase-down block on Andre Iguodala.

Across his final three games, James averaged 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 3.0 steals, and 3.0 blocks on 50% shooting from the floor. He was crowned Finals MVP and delivered one of the most iconic comebacks in league history.

1. Donovan Mitchell scorches Chicago for 71 points (2023)

Maybe it's recency bias, but Donovan Mitchell's explosion against Chicago has to be the single-best individual performance in Cleveland Cavaliers' history.

We already know that this was a career and franchise record, but Mitchell's 71 points and 11 assists made him the first player in NBA history to notch such numbers. He was responsible for 99 total points, behind only Wilt Chamberlain all-time (104).

Mitchell's performance ranks as the third-highest game score ever according to Basketball Reference.

What makes Mitchell's night even crazier is the fact that he only had 16 points in the first half as the Cavs trailed by nearly 20 points. A game that was shaping up to be lackluster turned into an absolute classic that will be remembered forever.

NBABasketball

Tony Pesta graduated from Cleveland State University in 2022 with a degree in journalism. He covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for Fear the Sword and OddsChecker. You can follow him on Twitter at @Tony_Pesta.

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