The 2016 NBA Finals will come down to one last game as the Cleveland Cavaliers look to pull off the greatest comeback in league history. Once trailing 3-1, LeBron James and Co. have forced a Game 7 on Sunday night, when the Golden State Warriors will look to avoid a third straight loss in their quest to repeat as champions.
No NBA team has ever come back from such a deficit to win the finals, and only two have even forced a Game 7. Cleveland looked overmatched after losing three of the first four games of the series, but they’ve come back to win the last two contests by double-digits. The Warriors have looked out of sorts and nothing like the team that set a record with 73 regular-season wins, but they are favored at home, where they’ve gone 50-4.
Cleveland has much of the public believing that they can pull off what once seemed nearly impossible. Before Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 at Oracle Arena, the Cavs were seven-point underdogs. The Warriors opened as 5.5-point favorites for Game 7, but the betting line has moved to 4.5 points at some Las Vegas sportsbooks, via VegasInsider.com.
After cruising though the regular season as one of the best offensive teams in history, Golden State has had trouble scoring at times in the finals. They are averaging 107.3 points per game in their three wins, but the team has been limited to 96 points per contest in three losses, including an 11-point first quarter in Thursday’s defeat. Golden State is 0-3 when Cleveland scores at least 100 points, and the Game 7 over/under is 206.5 points.
Game 5 was close for most of the way, and the Warriors made things interesting in the early part of the Game 6 fourth quarter. But for the most part, every game has been one-sided. It’s the first time in NBA history that the first six games of a series have all been decided by double-digits.
But considering the Warriors have more wins than any team in history and James is playing at a level that few have ever approached, it’s hard to imagine Game 7 not coming down to the wire.
Playing Game 7 at home, Golden State has the obvious advantage. Despite losing his cool at the end of Game 6, Stephen Curry seems to have found his shooting rhythm, having made 44 percent of his threes over the last three games. Klay Thompson came alive in the second half on Thursday, and Cleveland could be helpless if the Splash Brothers are hitting their shots.
Two of Golden State’s losses were the direct result of poor starts. The Warriors were outscored by 17 points in the first quarter of Game 3, and they trailed 31-11 after the opening period on Thursday. That isn’t likely to happen in front of their lively home crowd in a game that will decide their season.
The Warriors will be without Andrew Bogut for a second straight game, and the health of Andre Iguodala is in question. The 2015 Finals MVP made his way to the locker room twice in Game 6 to get work done on his ailing back, and it clearly affected him as he was seen limping on the court.
James has gotten enough help in the last two games, whether it was Kyrie Irving’s 41 points in Game 5 or Tristan Thompson’s 15 points and 16 rebounds in Game 6. If he gets anywhere near that type of assistance in Game 7, it might be enough for the Cavs to make history.
James has put together a 13-year Hall of Fame career that has been rivaled by few, and he might be playing the best basketball of his career. Averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists over the past two games, he’s carried Cleveland to victory.
He’s had his share of letdowns in the finals, but James is playing so well in this series that it might just be his time to win another title and bring the Cavs their first championship in franchise history.
Prediction: Cleveland over Golden State, 105-102