Back in Game 5, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both sprung for 41 points to keep the Cavaliers alive. Lost in all of the excitement was the fact that the Warriors are still just one win away from wrapping that up. If they’re going to do it tonight, it’ll have to happen in Cleveland, where regardless of tonight’s results, the Cavaliers fans will be cheering on their team in person for the last time this season. Tonight, the Warriors will be without starting center Andrew Bogut, who is out for the remainder of the Finals with an injury. Despite being without their defensive anchor, this forces the Warriors to play small early, and often, and as we all know, playing small is their most devastating strength. On top of that, Draymond Green is back from suspension, so the advantages seem to be trending back towards the Warriors, despite them being on the road. As for the Cavs, they’ll likely need a couple more heroic performances from their best players if they’re going to force a Game 7 out in Oakland. Either way, this will be their last stand at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Death Lineup vs Love/Thompson. Feels right that the Finals should come down to this — or at least more of this. Let’s basketball.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 17, 2016
9:00 pm – Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson welcome us into Game 6 at the Quicken Loans Arena.
9:01 – Craig Sager is here making a guest appearance on ESPN. It’s his first time reporting at the Finals, and it’s very nice to see. We here at The Bonus don’t hide the fact that we prefer TNT to ESPN, but we’ll tip our hats when someone earns it, and ESPN has earned it by having Sager on the broadcast tonight.
9:10 – With Andrew Bogut out, Andre Iguodala steps into the Warriors staring lineup, and Draymond Green slides to center. He loses the opening tip, and the Cavs begin the game with the ball.
9:13 – LeBron James goes 1-2 from the line, scoring the game’s first point to give the Cavaliers a commanding 1-0 lead.
9:17 – A steal leads to a LeBron fast break. Steph Curry is in hot pursuit, but he doesn’t want to commit his second foul already, so he lets LeBron go in for a big dunk. It leads to a time out, because the score’s Cleveland 6, Golden State 0 with 8:51 left in the first quarter. The Warriors have come out quite flat to start the game.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 17, 2016
9:23 – Draymond Green splits the defense and gets to the hoop for a layup, and the Warriors finally have their first points and trail 8-2.
9:25 – Steph Curry has been called for his second foul, and he’ll head to the bench with the Warriors down, 13-5.
9:27 – Festus Ezeli makes a nice move to get himself a layup, and the Cavs call a time out. Things are continuing to go their way, however, and the score’s Cleveland 20, Golden State 9 with 3:53 left in the opening quarter.
9:37 – The first quarter comes to an end, and the score’s Cleveland 31, Golden State 11. It’s the Warriors fewest amount of points in the first quarter all season long. They’ve gone from looking flat to looking like punks. Nobody can hit a shot, and a great many of them look lost and/or shellshocked. They’re shooting 5-22 from the floor overall, and are playing like they’re shitting themselves and hoping nobody notices. Meanwhile, the Cavs are playing like a competent basketball club.
9:42 – A pair of Steph Curry free throws gives us the first points of the second quarter points and cuts the Warriors deficit down to 31-13.
9:44 – Kevin Love picks up his third foul, despite playing only three minutes thus far. Not that the Cavs are that concerned as he heads back to the bench. Frankly, the Cavs don’t seem to really need him.
9:49 – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Former teammates Iman Shumpert and Anderson Varejao drag each other down to the ground and square off with one another. Not much else happens. Nothing to see here, move along.
9:50 – We’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 39, Golden State 24 with 8:53 left in the first half. The same things that went wrong for the Warriors in Game 5 are going wrong again here in Game 6, just on a much bigger scale. The most astounding thing is they’re missing shots that they normally make so easily. If they can’t do what they do well, everything else goes to hell and they start running around like chickens with their heads cut off. You don’t need me to tell you this, but that is not a formula for winning basketball.
9:54 – How bad was that first quarter for the Warriors?
Fewest 1st Quarter Points in Finals (Shot Clock Era since 1955)
11 Warriors tonight
13 FW Pistons G2 1955 a SYR
13 Bucks G3 1974 a BOS
— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) June 17, 2016
Shout out to the Fort Wayne Pistons.
9:59 – Klay Thompson gets to the hoop for a layup, but the Warriors still have a lot of work to do. It’s Cleveland 46, Golden State 33 with 5:41 left until halftime. One of the greatest testaments to how great the Warriors are is that, even when they’re down by this much, and playing this bad, they never quite seem like they’re out of shouting distance.
10:03 – Steph Curry finds Draymond Green under the hoop for a bucket, and suddenly, it’s a single-digit deficit for the Warriors as they’re in the midst of a 9-0 run. This inspires the Cavs to call a time out as the score’s now Cleveland 46, Golden State 38 with 4:39 remaining until halftime.
10:08 – We have a time out in between a pair of Kyrie Irving free throws. He hits the first one to make the score Cleveland 49, Golden State 38 with 3:18 to go until halftime. He’s at the line after Steph Curry’s third foul. Back from the time out, Irving hits his second free throw, and Curry remains in the game.
10:10 – Another time out as the Cavs have scored eight in a row to make the score Cleveland 54, Golden State 38 with 2:17 left in the first half. The Cavs have responded perfectly and doubled their lead after the Warriors had gotten to within single digits.
10:13 – Karl-Anthony Towns, Terry Francona, Tracy McGrady, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce and Jay-Z sightings! Sadly, they’re not all sitting together. I wonder what they’d all talk about.
10:19 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score Cleveland 59, Golden State 43. Kyrie Irving leads the Cavs with 20 points, LeBron James has 14 and 6 assists, and Tristan Thompson already has a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Steph Curry has 18 to lead the Warriors, but they have not looked sharp for most of the game. Obviously, there’s plenty of time left in this game, and for a brief stretch, they reminded us that they’re quite capable of raising hell and getting back into this one. However, they’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of their players are going to have to get over whatever’s bringing them down. That means you, Harrison Barnes (0-6 shooting), Klay Thompson (3-12) and Shaun Livingston (0-5).
10:25 – It’s time for tonight’s episode of Today in NBA Playoff History, brought to you by the crew over at Basketball-Reference!
This’ll cheer up the Warriors fans, because we’re going all the way back to last year, June 16, 2015. On that day, these Warriors finished off these Cavs to win the championship with a 105-97 victory in Game 6 of the Finals. It was a simpler time for the Warriors. They didn’t have to contend with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, not that Love has been much to contend with. As you probably remember, they were out with injuries, and LeBron James had to do much of the work himself, as he did in last year’s Game 6, in which he finished with 32 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists. Timofey Mozgov, a man who is still on the Cavs, went for 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Tristan Thompson had 15 and 13. Their efforts weren’t enough to stop the Warriors, who were led by Steph Curry’s 25 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Andre Iguodala also scored 25, and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Draymond Green sprung for a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It’s very much looking like history will not be repeating itself tonight, but who knows. We’ll just have to see how the second half goes…
10:38 – LeBron James cuts down the lane, takes a pass from Tristan Thompson and throws down a dunk! It starts off the second half nicely for the Cavs, and it extends their lead up to 61-43.
— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2016
10:46 – Draymond Green gets to the bucket for a layup, and the Cavs take a time out as the Warriors try to make a little noise. It’s Cleveland 70, Golden State 51 with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
10:50 – Andre Iguodala is off to the locker room. He’s been having a tough time all night and it looks like his back is bothering him. It’s limited his impact all night. Hopefully it’s not something that would knock him out for the rest of this game, or an increasingly likely Game 7.
10:53 – JR Smith loops up an alley-oop to LeBron James who comes flying in and throws it down! Of course, Mark Jackson ruins it by saying a bunch of stupid nonsense, saying things like, “It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive!” and of course, his lousy trademark, “Mama, there goes that man!” My friend, and Bonus social media manager Ian, says, “I never need to hear Mark Jackson again. I’m so tired of hearing it.” Somewhere, there’s an alternate universe where TNT does the Finals instead, and I think I want to live there. As for the basketball game, the Warriors need a time out after that thunderous dunk. The score’s Cleveland 76, Golden State 57 with 4:37 left in the third.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 17, 2016
10:57 – Back from the time out, Andre Iguodala is out of the locker room and lying on the floor near the Warriors bench. I guess that’s good news.
11:04 – We’re here at the end of the third quarter, and the Warriors closed it out on a 10-0 run. As a result the score’s Cleveland 80, Golden State 71. The last time the Warriors had their deficit within single digits, the Cavaliers immediately went on a run of their own to double their lead. It’s fairly unbelievable, but the Warriors have a shot to pull off a ridiculous comeback and steal this game, and the title.
11:08 – Two free throws from LeBron James supply us with the first points of the fourth quarter, and the Cavs lead is 82-71.
11:15 – Steph Curry commits foul number five. One more and he’ll foul out of the ball game. This one looked more like a clean steal than a foul to me.
11:17 – Steph Curry hits his 28th three pointer of the Finals, setting a new record for threes made in a Finals. More importantly, it makes this a single digit game again with the Warriors trailing, 84-76.
— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2016
11:19 – LeBron James gets a layup to put the Cavs ahead by double-digits again, and the Warriors take a time out with the score Cleveland 90, Golden State 79 with an even seven minutes remaining in the basketball game.
11:27 – LeBron emphatically blocks a Steph Curry layup attempt, and has one or two nasty words for the two time MVP on the side, and we’re going to have a time out. The score’s Cleveland 99, Golden State 86 with 4:31 remaining and LeBron’s taken over the game. But don’t take my word for it…
LeBron has scored or assisted on Cavs last 27 points. This is an all-time performance.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 17, 2016
11:33 – Steph Curry gets called for his sixth foul and flips the fuck out! He throws his motuh guard into the stands and it hits a fan! Then he flips out on the ref, and gets hit with a technical foul as he hears the “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!” chant from the fans! He heads to the locker room and appears to have been ejected from the ball game. He did apologize to the fan he hit with his yucky mouthguard on his way out. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving hits the technical free throw, and the Cavs lead, 100-87. I think there’s going to be a Game 7.
11:46 – Well, this one comes to an end, and the Warriors did not end up making it interesting. Your final score: Cleveland 115, Golden State 101.
For the second straight game, LeBron James scored 41 points, including 18 straight at on point. He also amassed 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. That’s two consecutive heroic performances facing elimination in the damn NBA Finals, and he’ll have to do it again in Game 7. Out of all of his many accomplishments, this has to be right up there as one of his finest, and if the Cavs complete the comeback and actually win Game 7…that’d be some truly legendary shit. LeBron had some help, too. Kyrie Irving scored 23, and Tristan Thompson went for 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Before he fouled out and was ejected, Steph Curry scored 30 to lead the Warriors. Klay Thompson added 25, and Draymond Green managed 8 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, but he seemed largely invisible throughout the game. Speaking of invisible, Harrison Barnes shot 0-8 for zero points, Andre Iguodala, who seemed to be battling a back injury, scored just five points, and Shaun Livingston shot 1-6 off the bench as everything went wrong for the Warriors. Once again, they played with panic, not panache, and everything went awry, culminating with Steph Curry’s shocking meltdown.
The Warriors really need to grow up, stop complaining and get back to playing the basketball that won them 73 games this season. Right now, the Cavs are the team that’s digging deep and rising to the occasion, while the Warriors have become the insufferable complainers, reacting poorly to their greatest challenge. Now both teams are one win away from winning the title, and I’m going to be really pissed off if they both don’t bring their best to Game 7. After a Finals, and an entire Playoffs filled with blowouts, we deserve a furious, memorable finish. Come on, Basketball Gods, we’ve earned it.