2016 NBA Finals – Game 7

LeBron and the Cavs make history.

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It doesn’t get any better than this. Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We’ve all been discussing and dissecting this series all month long, but the time has come to sit back and let the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers hash it out for all the marbles. Whoever wins tonight, wins the title. Will it be a historic night with Cleveland clinching the city’s first championship of any kind since 1964, and becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals? Will we see the Warriors defend their home court to win their second straight championship to put the cherry on top of their already historic, 73-win season? The time for questions and speculation has come to an end, so let’s hand things over to these two fantastic basketball teams.

7:53 pm – ESPN studio host Sage Steele informs us that the Warriors will start big man Festus Ezeli at center tonight, with Andre Iguodala, who is battling an injury and will be counted on to corral LeBron James, coming off the bench.

7:59 – For the final time this season, we’re welcomed to the game by Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.

8:01 – Fans have flooded downtown Cleveland to watch the game outside…

8:11 – The Cavs win the opening tip, and Game 7 is underway! They’re wearing the same crummy sleeved jerseys from Game 6.

8:12 – Tristan Thompson works for a basket in the paint, and the Cavs score first to take an early 2-0 lead.

8:13 – Festus Ezeli feeds Draymond Green with a nice pass for a big dunk, and the Warriors get their first bucket, and trail 4-2.

8:16 – We have our first time out, and we’re off to a good start with the score Golden State 8, Cleveland 8 with 6:58 left in the opening quarter. The Oracle is already deafeningly loud, and both teams are playing with a lot of energy. Just as it should be! If this game doesn’t come down to the last couple of plays, I’m going to supremely disappointed.

8:19 – Back from the time out, Andre Iguodala is off the bench for the Warriors. Whether or not he can play his usual great defense against LeBron James will go a long way to deciding who wins this game tonight.

8:25 – We’ve got another time out, and not much has changed. It’s Golden State 16, Cleveland 16 with 2:29 left in the first quarter. LeBron James already has three turnovers, and Harrison Barnes has continued to struggle from the floor, and is off to a 1-5 start. That being said, the energy level and quality of play remains high.

8:31 – To give you an idea of what the Cavs are trying to accomplish here tonight…

8:35 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Cleveland 23, Golden State 22. The Warriors have found their stroke from downtown, hitting five three pointers in the opening quarter, but the Cavs are killing them on the boards, with a 16-8 advantage on the glass. If they can keep that up, they’re going to be able to stay in the game even with the Warriors knocking down threes. Overall, so far so good here in Game 7.

8:39 – Shaun Livingston knocks down a midrange jumper, giving us our first points of the second quarter to put the Warriors up, 24-23. After struggling over the last couple of games, it’d be great for Golden State if Livingston got his midrange groove back tonight.

8:44 – We have another time out with the score Golden State 29, Cleveland 27 with 8:23 to go until halftime. Both teams are playing to their strengths, and weaknesses. For instance, the Warriors are nailing threes, but turning the ball over more often than they’d like, while the Cavs are gobbling up rebounds, playing good defense, and also turning the ball over too much. It’s made for a pretty great start so far.

8:54 – Time out with the score Golden State 35, Cleveland 33 with 5:43 left in the first half. It’s certainly been a back and forth struggle thus far, with neither team able to gain much ground. Keep it up, Game 7!

8:57 – LeBron James and Steph Curry exchange some unfriendly words after James blocks a Curry layup attempt. Draymond Green comes over and interjects himself into it, because he can’t help himself. Nothing explosive happens, but it’s always awesome to see some Game 7 hatred between the opponents.

8:59 – Kyrie Irving gets a layup over two Warriors, plus he’s fouled! He hits his free throw, and it leads into a time out with the score Golden State 38, Cleveland 38 with 3:59 left until halftime.

9:03 – Draymond Green spins around JR Smith for a baseline layup, plus he’s fouled! He unleashes a mighty roar and a muscle flex, and before he shoots his free throw, we’ll have a time out with the score Golden State 43, Cleveland 40 with 2:27 left in the first half. Green’s making a serious case for Finals MVP with a huge performance so far tonight. He’s up to 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 8-10 shooting, including a perfect 5-5 from three point land.

9:06 – Back from the time out, Green hits his free throw, putting him at 22 points, and the Warriors lead, 44-40.

9:09 – With 1:09 left in the first half, Steph Curry commits foul number three. Warriors coach Steve Kerr takes him out as the always lame “REFS YOU SUCK!” chant is heard throughout The Oracle. The foul sends Iman Shumpert to the line, where he goes 2-2, and the Cavs trail, 47-42.

9:11 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score Golden State 49, Golden State 42 after the Warriors were able to finally build a little bit of a lead. Draymond Green is leading the way with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a still perfect 5-5 performance from three point land. LeBron James had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists for the Cavs. The biggest difference so far is the three point shooting. Golden State’s 10-21 from downtown, while Cleveland’s a horrendous 1-14. No matter how well the Cavs do on the boards, this three point disparity is going to be unsustainable for them. Still, they’re not far behind, and we could be in for a great second half.

9:16 – It’s time for our final episode of Today in NBA Playoff History this year. Big shout out to Basketball-Reference for everything they do as the keepers of basketball knowledge. We couldn’t do this without you.

Back on June 19th, 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their 12th championship with a 116-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Finals. Current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose led the Pacers with 29 points. Current TNT color commentator Reggie Miller added 25, Dale Davis went for 20 points and 14 rebounds, and finally, Mark Jackson, who is providing obnoxious color commentary to tonight’s Game 7, chipped in with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. None of that was enough to overcome a 41 point, 12 rebound performance from Shaquille O’Neal. On top of that, Kobe Bryant provided 26 & 1o to secure their first of three championships together with the Lakers.

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“MAMA, THERE GOES THAT MAN!” – Mark Jackson, I assume, after Kobe Bryant presumably scored against him right after this picture was taken.

9:29 – JR Smith starts off the second half with a contested jumper, and the Cavs cut their deficit down to 49-44. Draymond Green follows it up by missing his first three pointer of the night. After that, Tristan Thompson hits a little floater in the paint to get the Cavs a little closer, trailing 49-46.

9:30 – Klay Thompson answers with a three pointer, and the Warriors lead is 52-46.

9:31 – JR Smith knocks down his second straight three pointer, and he has eight fast points to start off the second half. More importantly, the Cavs are within two, trailing 54-52.

9:32 – Kyrie Irving drives to the hoop for a layup, and we’ve got a time out as the Cavs have scored eight straight points to make the score Golden State 54, Cleveland 54 with 8:52 left in the third quarter. I was worried the Warriors might pull away after finishing the first half strong, but the Cavs aren’t going away quietly.

9:36 – After Steph Curry blocks an alley-oop attempt from JR Smith, he goes all the way down the court for a layup to give the Warriors a 56-54 advantage.

9:37 – Curry follows his layup up with a three, and the Cavs need to take a time out with the score Golden State 59, Cleveland 54 with 7:38 left in the third quarter.

9:41 – LeBron James finds Kevin Love in the paint for an easy bucket, and the Cavs keep it close and trail 59-56.

9:42 – Two free throws from LeBron makes this a one point game with the Cavs behind, 59-58. After a Kevin Love steal, Kyrie Irving gets the ball on the fast break and goes in for a layup, putting the Cavs in the lead at 60-59.

9:46 – A pair of Kyrie Irving free throws extends the Cavs lead to 62-59 as they’re on an 8-0 run. Make it a 10-0 run after Irving gets a steal and takes it all the way in for a layup, plus a foul! He hits his free throw, and we’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 65, Golden State 59 with 4:33 left in the third quarter.

9:55 – Draymond Green nails another three, and the Warriors have their deficit to two, trailing 71-69. Green’s up to 28 points tonight.

9:56 – Steph Curry finds Shaun Livingston ahead of the Cavs defense for a big dunk! It takes us into a time out as the score’s once again tied. It’s Golden State 71, Cleveland 71 with 1:55 to go in the third quarter.

9:57 – Dave Chappelle, Dwyane Wade, Ciara and Russell Wilson sightings here at Game 7! They all just watched the Warriors go on an 8-1 run to tie up this basketball game.

9:58 – LeBron knocks down a fallaway jumper, and the Cavs retake the lead at 73-71. Soon after, Harrison Barnes, who has had a miserable series, knocks down a three! He’s up to ten points and the Warriors have a 74-73 lead.

9:59 – Tristan Thompson gets into the paint and hits a left handed shot to put the Cavs back up, 75-74.

10:00 – Andre Iguodala gets a bucket from underneath the hoop, and it turns out to be the last points of an exciting third quarter. Our score’s Golden State 76, Cleveland 75 as we head into the final quarter of the season. Both teams have survived punches from one another, and we’re primed for a memorable finish out in Oakland.

10:03 – Meanwhile, in Cleveland…

…Game 7s are no joke.

10:04 – LeBron gets into the paint and puts in a shot, and the Cavs strike first in the fourth and take a 77-76 lead.

10:06 – Kevin Love hits a little hook shot, and the Cavs extend their lead to 79-76.

10:07 – Shaun Livingston hits a couple of free throws, and the Warriors are within one, trailing 79-78.

10:08 – Kyrie Irving misses a shot, gets his own offensive rebound and puts it in the hoop! It sends us into a time out with the score Cleveland 81, Golden State 78 with 9:04 remaining.

10:12 – Draymond Green drives to the hoop for a layup, and he’s up to 30 points on the night, and the Warriors are back to within one, trailing 81-80.

10:14 – Andre Iguodala goes 0-2 from the free throw line, and the Warriors remain down, 81-80. LeBron James then drives towards the hoop and banks in a runner, and the Cavs go up 83-80. Steph Curry answers with a deep three pointer, and we’re tied at 83!

10:15 – Klay Thompson knocks down a long two pointer, and we’re going to have a time out as the Warriors have reclaimed the lead. The score’s Golden State 85, Cleveland 83 with 6:11 to go.

10:19 – Steph Curry goes along the baseline for a layup, misses, but Draymond Green cleans it up and puts it in! He’s up to 32 points and the Warriors have an 87-83 lead.

10:20 – Festus Ezeli, who is for some reason back into the game for the Warriors, falls for a LeBron James pump fake, and fouls him as he shoots a three. Ezeli has been fairly terrible for the Warriors tonight, and if I was coach Steve Kerr, which I’m not, I would not have put him back into the game. James hits all three free throws, and the Cavs trail, 87-86.

10:22 – LeBron knocks down a three! The Cavs go up, 89-87, but Klay Thompson ties us right back up with a quick layup, making the score 89-89.

10:24 – We’ve got a time out, and the score’s still Golden State 89, Cleveland 89 with 2:49 left in the ball game. We’ve had 20 lead changes and 11 ties so far, so, yeah. It’s been a worthy Game 7. LeBron’s got a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and Draymond Green’s not far from one with 32, 13 & 9. Goddamn!

10:29 – Another time out, and with 1:09 remaining, it’s still Golden State 89, Cleveland 89. Who will step up and win this game for their team?

10:32 – Kyrie Irving knocks down a three over Steph Curry! As the game goes under a minute remaining, the Cavs have a 92-89 lead! Curry then misses a three, and the Cavs have the ball! Eventually, Harrison Barnes fouls Kyrie Irving with 18.7 seconds left. The Warriors had a foul to give, so the Cavs will inbound the ball.

10:33 – LeBron James goes flying in for a dunk…and he misses it, but he’s fouled! He’s also writhing around in pain on the floor, and it looks like he’s actually hurt this time. He’s holding his right wrist, which is important, because he’s going to have to shoot some free throws with just 10.6 seconds left on the clock.

10:35 – LeBron misses the first free throw, and rattles in the second one. The Warriors call a time out with the score Cleveland 93, Golden State 89 with just 10.6 second to go.

10:37 – After what was looking like a mess of a possession, the Cavs use their foul to give, and there’s now 6.5 seconds left. Steph Curry then misses a three…Marrese Speights grabs a rebound, dribbles out to the corner…and misses another three! Holy hell, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the championship! Your final score from The Oracle: Cleveland 93, Golden State 89!

LeBron James led the Cavs with another fantastic performance, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Kyrie Irving scored 26, grabbed 6 rebounds and hit the go-ahead three pointer that gave Cleveland the lead for good towards the end of the game. Kevin Love chipped in with 9 points and 14 rebounds. Draymond Green did all he could for the Warriors, springing for 32 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists, but he received little help. Regular season MVP Steph Curry managed just 17 points and 5 rebounds on 6-19 shooting, far below his usual standards, and Klay Thompson had just 14 on 6-17 shooting.

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For the Warriors, this was a bitter defeat that will no doubt haunt them for some time. After finishing the regular season with a historic 73-9 record, they’ve stumbled on their biggest test. After going up 3-1 in the Finals, it was as if they spent the rest of the series panicking, forcing up lousy shots and turning the ball over recklessly. Maybe they were more banged up than we know, but this meltdown was inexplicable, and unfortunately, it does taint their historic regular season. Trust me, I like the Patriots and live in Massachusetts, and everybody goes out of their way to not talk about their 16-0 season because of how things went in the Super Bowl. If you’re going to be historic and legendary, you need that championship to back it up. Now, instead of unquestionably being mentioned amongst the all time NBA teams, the Warriors will face an unwanted slew of scrutiny, and a long summer wondering what went wrong.

Enough about them, though. What the Cavaliers accomplished was truly special. No team had ever rallied back from a 3-1 Finals deficit to win a championship, and they did so against the team that broke the record for wins in a season. For LeBron James, it is his greatest accomplishment. What he did over the final three games firmly cements him as one of the greatest of all time. He has a lot of haters, and he makes it easy to dislike him much of the time, but they really have nothing left to say. He’s finally delivered on his promise to bring a championship home to Cleveland, he’s made it to six straight Finals, which nobody has done since the Celtics of old, and he personally dispatched the team with the greatest regular season ever by averaging 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks while facing elimination over the last three games and making almost every big play. Not to mention winning Game 7 on the road, something that hasn’t happened in the Finals since 1978. That’s as real as it gets.

Well, that does it for the 2016 NBA Playoffs. After slogging through all of the blowouts, tonight’s memorable Game 7 made it all worth it. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers, their fans, and that city. Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors as well. Nobody ever thought that we’d see a team best the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72-10. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t secure the championship, but they’ll be back, and angry, next season.

As for us here at The Bonus, basketball isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we. There’s the draft later this week, and free agency this summer, and there’ll always be stuff going on to talk about, and we’ll be here to write all about it. Unless we find something better to do…

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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