Game 7 of the NBA Finals…
I repeat: GAME 7 OF THE NBA FINALS!
What a time to be alive. To think, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked completely dead in the water when they went down 3-1, only to #turnup and complete an incredible turnaround to force a Game 7. The Cavs dominated the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, 115-101, to tie the NBA Finals series at 3-3. Cleveland has been nothing short of brilliant these past two games, thanks in large-part to outstanding defense, but mainly because of LeBron James.
King James followed up a 41-point performance in Game 5 with another 41-point night to go with 11 assists, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. At one stretch in the second half, ‘Bron ‘Bron scored or assisted on 27 straight Cleveland points to stave off a run that saw the Warriors cut a 24-point deficit to seven. He scored 17 in the fourth quarter, and put a stamp on the magnificent performance with an emphatic block on Stephen Curry:
That trash-talk afterward, though! It’s getting real out here, folks. This is exactly what we want to see at this point in the year: the two best players on the floor exchanging words on the grandest stage with everything on the line. This is the Basketball Gods shining their light upon us all, granting us a seventh and decisive game for the championship. And whereas Cleveland looks to be using that “do-or-die” feeling to fuel their play, Golden State looks to be unraveling.
Cleveland led 31-11 at the end of the first quarter. For the Warriors, this is unacceptable. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the ‘Dubs go down by double-digits early, but sheesh, you had an opportunity to close out the Finals and that’s how you start the game? Facing a huge deficit that early and then relying on the hot-shooting of Curry and Klay Thompson to claw back into the game, that’s no way to live. That’s not OK. That’s not how a 73-win team should be performing on the biggest stage. And I understand the Cavs played incredible defense from the opening tip, but where was the Warriors’ “vaunted” defense. Everybody thought Draymond Green’s return from suspension would help shore up the problems at the defensive end, but Cleveland came out and still smacked Golden State in the mouth and cooked that Swiss-cheese backline.
Once the Warriors fell behind, they started playing soft. If your outside shots aren’t falling, why not drive to the rim instead of throwing up contested three-pointers? There was one instance where Thompson had an open fastbreak layup, dribbled backwards and hoisted up a three-pointer. There was one instance where they cut the deficit to single digits, only for Curry to throw up an ill-advised 40-footer. Harrison Barnes is out here looking like a Shook One, halfway-crook son, going 0-for-8 from the floor and jacking up five treys when he clearly lost his shooting touch with an abysmal 2-for-22 over the past two games. But let’s get back to Curry.
The unanimous selection for MVP this year scored 30 points on 8-of-20 from the field. Beyond his shooting woes, his night was plagued by fouls as he ended up fouling out and getting ejected after throwing his mouthpiece, which hit a fan on the sideline:
This is the media-darling, baby-faced face of the NBA limping out to a poor performance and then losing his cool when he made a boneheaded move. Should he have had six fouls? Probably not. But you expect more from him. For all the love Curry gets as being the best thing since sliced bread, he deserves just as much criticism for his less-than-stellar play this series and for failing to keep his composure in the face of adversity. Add in his wife Ayesha Curry tweeting in frustration that the game was “rigged,” and it was just a bad night all-around:
— x-evan-g-z (@xevangz) June 17, 2016
(You like how we slipped a Crying Jordan in there, don’t you?)
Still, this sets up for an epic clash on Sunday. We thought Game Of Thrones’ Bastard Bowl would be the night’s biggest battle. We thought Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins at WWE Money In The Bank would the the night’s most exciting title fight. We didn’t know the Basketball Gods would create the animosity, the fury and the fire to make Sunday’s Game 7 the final battle to end an incredible war.
Oh, and let’s not forget the best moment of the night: Craig Sager reporting in his first-ever NBA Finals game.
Tags:cleveland cavalierscraig sagerdraymond greengolden state warriorsharrison barnesklay thompsonlebron jamesnbanba finalsstephen curry
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