LeBron, Cavs down Warriors, force Game 7 of NBA Finals


LeBron, Cavs down Warriors, force Game 7 of NBA Finals

CLEVELAND - LeBron James scored 41 points, Kyrie Irving added 23 and the Cleveland Cavaliers sent the NBA Finals packing for California by beating the rattled Golden State Warriors 115-101 on Thursday night to even this unpredictable series and force a decisive Game 7.

James delivered another epic performance in an elimination game and the Cavs saved their season for the second time in four days and are headed back to Oakland's Oracle Arena for Sunday's climactic game on the brink of history.

One more win and they'll become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, and more importantly, give title-starved Cleveland its first major sports championship since Dec. 27, 1964.

"I want to win for sure," James said. "But I want to give everything I've got and we'll see what happens. We forced a Game 7. It's going to be a fun one."

The Warriors never imagined being in this spot. The defending champions, who powered their way to a record 73 wins in the regular season, won the first two games by 48 combined points. But MVP Stephen Curry and Co. have lost their touch, their poise and are in danger of their historic season - and a second title - vanish.

Curry was ejected from Game 6 with 4:22 left after he was called for his sixth personal foul, cursed at an official and fired his mouthpiece into the front row, striking a fan. Curry finished with 30 points, Klay Thompson had 25 and Draymond Green, back from a one-game suspension, had 10 rebounds.

On Wednesday, James called Game 7, "the two best words ever."

He'll live them once more, thanks to his spell-binding effort - he had a hand in 27 consecutive points in the second half - and put away the Warriors after they closed a 24-point deficit to seven in the final period. James scored 14 points in the fourth before checking out to a thunderous ovation in the final minutes as Cleveland fans chanted, "Cavs in 7!" and "See you Sunday!"

"At the end of the day I'm going to give my teammates everything I got," James said. "I'm going to give my coaching staff all I've got. And I'll be satisfied with the results."

In typical Cleveland fashion, there were some heart palpitations in the fourth. The Cavs built a 24-point lead in the third, and when J.R. Smith blindly dropped a lob pass to a trailing James for a dunk, Quicken Loans shook with noise and thousands of fans packing a plaza outside the building began thinking about where they might watch Game 7.

The Warriors, though, weren't done. On the anniversary of their title last season, Thompson made a pair of 3-pointers as Golden State, playing without injured center Andrew Bogut, closed the third quarter with a 25-10 run to pull within 80-71 entering the final 12 minutes.

But James, as he did while winning two titles in Miami, made sure those belonged to him and extended Cleveland's dream season.

Before taking the floor, James huddled his teammates in prayer the way he does before every game outside the locker room. He then offered some final words.

"Every possession counts. Every possession matters," he said. "No breakdowns."

The only things broken early on were the Warriors, who couldn't make an outside shot and were sloppy in the first quarter, when they fell behind by 22 while Curry sat on the bench with two fouls.

Down by 20 at the end of the period, coach Steve Kerr told sideline reporter Craig Sager, working his first finals: "Am I worried? 31-11? We got this."

The Warriors didn't get it, though, and now have to fight off a Cleveland team rolling like never before.

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

AP Photo

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

BOSTON -- As I made my way towards the Boston Celtics locker room following their 100-99 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, I walked past co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who, as you might expect, was pleased with what he had just witnessed.
“That was a good one,” he said.
That’s one way to describe it.


But explaining the Houdini-like way the Celtics seem to get out of some serious jams over and over again, and against really good teams, is indeed a head-scratcher for most.
It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of fresh adjectives to describe this team, which has a knack for the comeback.
“Improbable” doesn’t do justice to how Boston’s hit-the-lottery luck has played out so often on nights when it seemed on the doorstep of defeat.
And this town loves a good comeback story, whether it’s Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win after being down by 25 points, or the Celtics spotting the NBA champ Golden State Warriors a 17-point cushion before rallying for a meaningful November win -- a rarity in the NBA.
But the obscure and unexpected have become standard in this seemingly alternate basketball universe that the Celtics play in, one that we have been bearing witness to all season.

I mean, look at their body of work:

DECEMBER 18: Down by one on the road at Indiana in the closing seconds of play in what appears to be a tough road loss, Terry Rozier steals and races down the floor looking like Deion Sanders in high-tops, for a game-winning dunk.

DECEMBER 28: Trailing the Houston Rockets by 26 points in the third quarter, they rally back and steal the win with not one, but two offensive fouls drawn in the last minute by Marcus Smart against perennial league MVP candidate James Harden.

JANUARY 11: In London, they erased a 22-point deficit and defeated Philly.

FEBRUARY 4: There was a buzzer-beater by Al Horford to beat Portland on Super Bowl Sunday.

And . . . well, you get the idea.

Boston has six wins by a single point this season, which is tied with Miami for the season lead and is one shy of tying the franchise record for one-point wins in a season. 

In addition, Boston has won 10 games this season in which it fell behind by 12 or more points. 
Winning so many games under less-than-ideal circumstances has not only padded the Celtics' win total, but also reinforced this team with a Teflon-strong mindset. They believe they're tthe ultimate practitioner of basketball necromancy, consistently finding a way to rise up from the basketball graveyard of defeat and win in dramatic fashion.

Like they did Tuesday night against the Thunder.

How can you bank on Carmelo Anthony, a career 81.2 percent free-throw shooter, missing a pair with less than nine seconds to play?
Or botching the play Brad Stevens drew up at the end of the game -- "We kind of messed [it] up," said Jayson Tatum -- but, rather than it leading to a turnover, instead becoming a game-winning 3-pointer by Marcus Morris with 1.8 seconds to spare? 


 It was another crazy ending in what has been a season filled with bizarre finishes, jaw-dropping rallies and a never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has kept Celtics fans on the edge of their seats all season.
“It’s great to be in a situation where you’re down six with under a minute to play or whatever it was, and you find a way to win the game,” said Stevens. “That’s going to be pretty unique, but they just kept playing the next possession and we were fortunate that that shot went down. That was a heck of a shot by Marcus."
A heck of a shot?
But in this bizarro world of Celtics basketball this season, it was predictable as the Thunder became yet another team to play Boston and leave wondering the same thing most Celtics fans do … “Did THAT just happen?


Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett was paying close attention to Tuesday night's thriller between the Celtics and Thunder.

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On KG's Area 21, the former Celtics great watched as Boston rallied in the game's final minute to make a stunning comeback. Right before Marcus Morris drilled the game-winner, Garnett called it by saying, "The Morris twin will end up shooting this or something because he like 'yeah I'm about the moment'"

Not a bad call. Morris certainly was "about the moment" Tuesday night as he has been multiple times this season.