Sunday night LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will try to accomplish something that no team in NBA Finals history has been able to do, and that is come back to win a Finals series after facing a 3-1 deficit.
Possibly even more astounding than the fact that the Cavs have erased the two-game deficit to tie the series at three games apiece is the fact that they have done it without home-court advantage.
Simply, it means that in order to pull off what has so far in NBA history has been impossible, Cleveland will have to win Game 7 on the road, in Oracle Arena, against the Golden State Warriors — the team that during the regular season eclipsed the mark set by Michael Jordan‘s Bulls of best regular season record.
It won’t be easy.
Likely it will take another all-time performance by James to capture the crown, which would be his third, but the first for the city of Cleveland since Jim Brown suited up for the Browns in 1964.
Fifty-two years Cleveland has waited.
Can the Cavs get it done?
Sunday night’s winner will be the last of my five bold predictions for Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
1. LeBron will go off once again
With another great performance Sunday night, win or lose LeBron James will cap off one of the most historic single-player performances in Finals history.
As Joel Norman wrote Friday, a win guarantees James immortality in basketball lore.
But another top-notch performance could put him in a category in which only “The Logo” Jerry West currently occupies as the only player from the losing team to win Finals MVP.
In last two games James has totaled 82 points, 24 rebounds, 18 assists, seven steals and six blocks, all while only turning the ball over twice.
Not only that, but he leads players from both teams in numerous offensive and defensive categories, including points (181), assists (51), steals (16) and blocks (13), and is tied for the series lead in rebounds with 68.
James has recorded a double-double in every game but one in this series, but he may need to become the first player since Jason Kidd in 2002 to record a triple-double in a game in the Finals.
2. Stephen Curry will show us why he was the MVP
It’s shocking to think we could be this far into a story about the NBA Finals that includes the regular season MVP Stephen Curry without actually talking about the MVP.
That’s how this series has gone, though.
When the series was 3-1 Golden State, it was a national question – not debate, but question – of who was going to be named the Finals MVP if the series was to end in Game 5.
Then when Game 5, which the Warriors lost at home, was played, many thought Draymond Green had shored up the award despite not playing in the game.
But now that doesn’t look likely either. In fact, the most likely scenario at this point is no matter the final score of the game give the award to LeBron James.
Curry needs to go off.
He needs to show everyone once again why he is the player to usurp the distinction of greatest player in the world away from James.
Curry will go off.
He will hit somewhere between 4-6 three pointers in the first half, and will likely be the one to swish home the shot from way beyond the arch that puts the game away.
Curry needs to be the one to save this series for the Warriors.
Golden State will need large contributions from Green, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and other, that’s a given. It needs to be Curry, though, that wins the game for the Warriors.
3. There will be an ejection
These two teams don’t like each other very much.
As much as the NBA seems to currently be constructed as a buddy system amongst the players with post-game hugs, hand shakes and laughter with drinks together after press conferences, that doesn’t apply between these two teams.
They don’t like one another.
LeBron doesn’t like Steph; Draymond is Draymond, and you have the Anderson Varejao factor, as well. Not to mention that with the inconsistency of the officiating this series hasn’t made these two squads come any closer.
Someone is going to get tossed in Game 7.
Whether it is due to a skirmish on the court between players, or a player or coach arguing with the officials, there will be one person from either team that is DQ’d and forced to catch an early shower.
It won’t be an important player; the league couldn’t afford it to be. Instead it will likely be whichever player is leading his team in high-5’s or knows the best doughnut shop from his team’s respective city.
4. The Cavs will show their hand
All jokes aside, LeBron James runs the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At the end of the day, James is the best player on the team; he’s the head coach of the team, and the lead decision maker of the organization.
It’s no secret that feelings haven’t been all happy thoughts between the players of Cleveland’s “Big 3” this year.
GM LeBron is going to show his hand.
Game 7 will not only be analyzed from an X’s and O’s, and an outcome standpoint, it’s going to be analyzed in the demeanor the Cavs play with, and the strategy they employ.
Although nothing is definite, and all this could change simply if the Cavs pull off the victory, there is likely a better-than-decent chance one of the members of the Big 3 – James, Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Love – will not be in Cleveland at the start of next season.
The decision of whoever will not be returning next year will be made Sunday night. Whether it’s James symbolically ripping off his jersey like he did in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010, or whether it’s Love’s lack of production early on in the game that warrants him a seat on the bench in crunch time, or whether it’s a spat between Irving and James late in the game, GM LeBron will signify the first made decision of the offseason Sunday night.
5. The Golden State Warriors repeat as Champs
Simply too many odds stack up against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yes, the Cavs have all the momentum from winning the last two games, however, there is too much in favor of the Warriors.
Golden State hasn’t been nearly as efficient from three-point land as they have been throughout the season; that will change.
As I mentioned earlier, Steph has to go off, and he will.
Oracle Arena is one of the, if not the, toughest arenas to play in in all of the NBA, and it will be rocking Sunday night.
Lastly, history doesn’t support the Cavs chances in this game.
There is a reason no team has come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals to win. Similarly, like the Chicago Cubs, there is a reason one way or the other that a Cleveland professional sports team hasn’t won a championship since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office as President of the United States.
Some teams, some cities aren’t supposed to win. Cleveland may just be on that list.
Curry will have a monster performance, at least 35 points. Thompson will also need to have a big game.
Andre Iguodala needs to be as healthy as possible for the Dubs to have a chance at containing LeBron and company, especially in the absence of Andrew Bogut.
LeBron James went back to Cleveland due to unfinished business. Maybe the biggest reason of all, though, that Golden State will win Sunday is the same reason.
With Steve Kerr at the helm, Curry and his crew know that in order to be truly in consideration for being called the greatest team of all time, they have to finish off the Cavs in Game 7.
Getting to the Finals means nothing unless you take home the crown when trying to put yourself in consideration with Michael Jordan.
Golden State is up for the task. Golden State wins Game 7.