Cleveland Cavaliers beat Golden State Warriors 115-101 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and now have a chance to do what no team in the history of the NBA has ever done: Come back from 3-1 down to win the best-of-7 final.
However, they will have their work cut out for them, because not only would they have to win at the Warriors' home court, but their opponents would have had lost three consecutive games. Something the Warriors have not done all season.
But before that, we will have a Game 7 and LeBron James is the reason for that. He was phenomenal again, scoring 41 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Kyrie Irving wasn't bad either, chipping in with a hard-fought 23 points. The worrisome part was Kevin Love's performance, which did not improve after his shockingly low two-point showing in game 5. For the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson scored 30 and 25 points respectively, but it just wasn't enough as they went down by 14 points to lose back-to-back games.
Late in the fourth quarter, Curry fouled out and was ejected from the game for throwing his mouthpiece, which happened to strike a fan. Curry was quick to apologise; it was an act borne out of a frustrating loss and had nothing to do with that particular spectator. Steve Kerr, Warriors' head coach, at the press conference after the game, said he had no problem with Curry throwing his mouthpiece. "I'm happy he threw his mouthpiece, he should be upset," he said.
Even though he scored 30 points, it never felt like it was going to be enough. He had to score more than LeBron, Thompson had to outscore Kyrie Irving. And that has been the story of these NBA Finals playoffs. Klay Thompson, as the second best player for his team, has played amazingly well, especially during the absence of Steph Curry. Who can forget his heroic performance in Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he single-handedly saved the season for his team. Curry's performance, however, has only been above–average, and nothing more. He needs to produce a superstar-like showing, one of those memorable Jordan-esque performances if the Warriors are going to win Game 7.
Because, as of right now, the momentum has swung. Draymond Green's Game 5 suspension will be looked at as the defining moment of the NBA Finals if the Warriors fail to retain their title, but it has been the inspired play and leadership of LeBron James that has been the real factor. If he produces a similar performance in the deciding game, and Curry is only above-average, the Cavaliers will achieve the impossible.
But this game boiled down to the fact that the Cavaliers played better on both ends of the court. In fact, for vast stretches of the game, the Warriors were just plain awful. A fact that did not stop Ayesha Curry, Steph Curry's wife, to tweet that the game was rigged. A tweet that she has since deleted.
Warriors need Green and Andre Iguodala to defend better, and both Harrison Barnes and Shaun Livingston to score double-figures at the very least.
When asked by a reporter after the game whether the Cavaliers could win away from their home court and do what no other team has ever done before, a smiling LeBron said that records are meant to be broken. Klay Thompson, at the press conference after the game, said that he and the rest of his team expected to win the championship.
There is also talk that the NBA might suspend Curry for throwing the mouthpiece. If that happens, it would be a shame, and a monumental let-down and mistake on the part of the NBA. Game 7 deserves a full-strength Golden State Warriors against a full-strength Cleveland Cavaliers.
Winning a championship in front of your home crowd would be the best way to cap off what has already been an incredible and record-breaking season for the Warriors. It's a do-or-die game and what fans of the NBA deserve. The finals are tied at three games apiece, the best team in the Eastern Conference against the best in the West. One team hoping to win back-to-back titles and take their place in history as the best team of the NBA. Another hoping to not lose a finals for the second year in a row.