Cavaliers hold court at home with 115-101 win, Game 7 Sunday
LeBron James did it again, scoring 41 points in his second straight game and leading the Cavaliers to a second straight win against the Warriors on Thursday, forcing Game 7 on Sunday. LeBron finished with 41 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, three blocks and three 3-pointers, and has sewn up the Finals MVP Award, win or lose, as far as I’m concerned. The Cavaliers were up 31-11 after the first quarter (the Warriors’ lowest total of the season), as Kyrie Irving and LeBron housed them out of the gates. LeBron is the first player in modern NBA history to rack up at least 41-8-11-4-3 (not to mention the 3-pointers) in any NBA game, let alone a Finals Game! You think he’s tired of hearing that Steph Curry is better?
Irving added 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers, despite disappearing in the second half (3 points), and Tristan Thompson went off for 15 points and 16 rebounds going 6-of-6 from the field. J.R. Smith hit four 3-pointers for 14 points, three steals and a block, while Kevin Love’s woes continued. Love hit just 1-of-3 shots and a 3-pointer for seven points and three rebounds, but had just one point in three minutes in the first half after picking up three quick fouls. And yes, the Cavaliers were probably happy that happened, as Richard Jefferson’s defense has been much more important than anything Love has done in these Finals. RJ played 32 minutes and had three points, six rebounds and two steals on 1-of-3 shooting, but played great help defense, as usual. It will be very interesting to see if RJ or Love starts in Game 7.
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The Warriors got 30 points, just one assist and six 3-pointers from Stephen Curry, while Klay Thompson hit 9-of-21 shots and three 3-pointers for 25 points, two steals and a block in the loss. Thompson was just 3-of-12 in the first half for seven points, but went on a 15-point run in the third quarter before running out of gas. Curry fouled out for the first time since Dec. 2013, and was ejected for the first time in his career. More on that later.
Draymond Green, returning from a one-game suspension, led the team with 41 minutes, but had just eight points on 3-of-7 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block, and could have a much bigger role in Game 7 because Andre Iguodala (5 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, one 3-pointer) was bothered by a back injury and is now iffy for Game 7. I’m pretty sure he’ll play, but it may be solely on the shoulders of Green to try to stop LeBron in Game 7, as Iguodala labored up and down the court when he was in there. And LeBron is unstoppable right now, hitting jumpers and driving to the hole at will.
The key for the Warriors to win at home in Game 7 may be stopping Irving. He had 20 points in the first half of Game 6 last night, but finished with just 23 points after being trapped and badgered in the second half. He’s coming into Game 7 cold and my guess is the Warriors keep trapping him and let LeBron get what he wants, while limiting Irving to the best of their ability. And while we’re talking about Irving, he deserves some props for his solid defense against Curry in this series.
Harrison Barnes really struggled again, missing all eight of his shots and failing to score a point in just 16 minutes. He was 2-of-14 shooting in Game 5 and all the talk of him getting paid as a free agent has been quieted after his 2-of-22 shooting over the last two games. Maybe that means the Warriors get the free agent back next season, but there were no guarantees he was leaving, even when he was hot. Where Barnes ends up is one of the more interesting free agency questions out there, although my money has always been on GSW.
Leandro Barbosa was great off the Warriors’ bench, hitting 4-of-6 shots and two 3-pointers for 14 points, two rebounds and two assists, but it wasn’t enough. The closest the Warriors ever got was seven points with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and it happened on a Barbosa 3-pointer.
As for who is going to win the MVP in this series, I’m going with LeBron James. He’s outplayed every other player on both teams and the Cavaliers might even make it a no-brainer decision for the committee if they become the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Finals. If Golden State wins, flip a coin between LeBron and Steph for Finals MVP (I still have LeBron).
Finals MVP Rankings
LeBron James – Last four games: 34.8 points, 12 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 2.5 steals, 2.8 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers on 55 percent shooting (wins MVP either way?).
Stephen Curry – 30-plus in two of his last three games, less than 20 points in first three games of the series. Just 14 assists in last four games, but 25 3-pointers in last five (wins MVP if Warriors win?).
Kyrie Irving – Averaging 32 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers over last four games (in running for MVP if Cavs win).
Klay Thompson – 22.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.6 3-pointers in last five games. Not MVP numbers.
Draymond Green – Not going to get MVP after low scoring and suspension.
Andre Iguodala – Back injury and lack of big games going to hurt him.
Yes, the referees missed some calls in this game and I don’t think the reach-in calls against Curry and Green late, nor a non-call on a Klay Thompson shot in the fourth quarter were good. But you simply CANNOT hold the refs responsible for LeBron and Kyrie going for 41 each in Game 5, nor a 31-11 drubbing by the Cavs to start Game 6. Refs manage a game and may give preferential treatment to the stars, but they are not the reason the Warriors lost this game, in my opinion. I just don’t see how Adam Silver could control how Irving, James and Curry play. This is basketball and calls are going to be made and missed, just like they always have been. And as for Curry’s mouthpiece being thrown into the stands and hitting a fan, it’s a fine and nothing more, unless you can show me an instance where anyone’s ever been injured by a slobbery thrown piece of plastic. Look for that thing on Ebay tomorrow. Yes, Udonis Haslem was suspended in a playoff game for throwing his mouthpiece ten years ago in a playoff game, but Haslem threw his at a referee (Joey Crawford - shocker), which is different. Curry hit the son of one of the Cavaliers' owners (lol).
Andrew Bogut (knee) is out.
Golden State is favored by 5, but the loss of Bogut and possibly Iguodala will hurt. The Cavs are in the Dubs’ heads and this could be one of the most epic Game 7s we’ve ever seen. But I took the Warriors in 7 when this whole thing started and I think it will take more than the loss of Bogut, and possibly Iguodala, to make them lose at home. I think the key will be the doubling and trapping on Irving and I see the Warriors winning by 7. They haven’t lost three games in a row all season long, and have only lost two straight games twice – both in these playoffs. I just can’t bet on the Warriors losing a third straight game, let alone the fact they’re at home. Home teams have gone 15-3 in Finals Game 7s throughout history. The ’66 Lakers overcame a 3-1 deficit but lost at Boston, the ’51 Knicks lost to at the Rochester Royals in Game 7 after trailing 3-1, and the Bullets in ’78 were the last road team to win a Game 7. Yes, the Cavs are hot again (despite Kevin who?), but I got Warriors by 7!
J.R.'s sweet and honest daughter
See you on Sunday for the final Daily Dose of the year!!!