It’s what we all wanted. It’s what (arguably) the NBA wanted. Game 7 of the NBA Finals is looming large and it’s going to be closer than some people might think. My pick? The Cleveland Cavaliers.
Before you chew me out, here’s my reasoning.
The Cavaliers are on a roll.
They’ve dropped the Warriors 2 games in a row now, and while you can always make the age-old “They can’t possibly lose 3 in a row” argument, momentum says otherwise. A few analysts and fans say momentum is made-up. It’s not real, it doesn’t have an effect on games. I believe it does.
Momentum is a sign of things going right for you. Maybe you’ve started to make adjustments you hadn’t thought about before that are working or perhaps it’s a combination of things looking up for you and your opponent being in a funk. Either way, things are rolling Cleveland’s way. Even if momentum isn’t something you necessarily believe in, you can’t say the Cavs aren’t feeling good about themselves preparing for Sunday night.
Confidence, for a team that battled through some baffling lows earlier on in the season, heading into a crucial Game 7 in enemy territory can never be under-estimated.
Conversely, the Golden State Warriors simply haven’t looked like themselves as of late.
Klay Thompson had a possession in Game 6 where he had a transition lay-in but opted to sprint back out for a corner three, which he promptly bricked. Hero ball seems like it’s beginning to seep in, and maybe it’s totally reversible and just a one-time occurrence, who knows.
Stephen Curry’s been himself in terms of point output, but he’s been nowhere as efficient, entertaining or distributive as he was during the course of the season. Draymond Green was supposed to have an emotionally-charged comeback but that fizzled out. Golden State’s role players have been absolutely atrocious in the games they’ve lost.
The Warriors have looked out of sorts and the debate comes down to whether it’s their own doing or whether the Cavs are putting them in tough spots, but I lean towards the former. I think they bounce back at home and make this game exactly what you would expect, fiercely-contested and one for the ages.
Tyronn Lue finally understands what he’s doing.
It took him three losses to Golden State to figure out what he had to do to be competitive, but being a first-year coach, you can’t complain if you’re a Cavs fan. Lue’s put together that what he was doing with Kevin Love earlier simply wasn’t working. Love is a complete liability on defense and demands too many touches for someone who hasn’t proven to be that productive on the offensive end of the floor this year.
In addition, because he’s been playing Love less, Richard Jefferson’s been getting quality minutes in which he can contribute with energy off the bench and stellar defense. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are doing as much as you can ask for defensively on Curry and Thompson. With Love being less of an obstruction on the offensive end for James and Irving, and part of the credit goes to Love for being willing to do so and realizing it benefits his team, the star duo is gelling and taking off.
And here’s a bonus reason for my conspiracy theorists out there.
For my people out there saying the Finals is only even heading to a Game 7 because of referees trying to generate higher ratings and ticket sales, if you continue the same logic (if it’s even valid), there’s no path for this series to go other than LeBron James, in a Game 7 on the road, having a historic performance in order to secure his (almost) hometown’s first NBA championship.
Think about it. Golden State’s had their shine already. What’s more of a revenue generator? The Warriors winning number two or the Cavaliers winning their first?
At some point, if you believe the NBA is rigged, James has to win a ring in Cleveland. That’s been one of the biggest league sub-plots for nearly the last decade. This is LeBron’s best chance to win a ring, probably for a long while. If you believe the league is fixed, and Tim Donaghy’s with you, here’s the chance for Adam Silver to capitalize on a story that’s been drawn out for quite a while.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports