In a competition as hotly contested as the NBA Finals, there is no sweeter combination of words than, “Game 7”. Now, following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6, all eyes are on Sunday’s game (Monday for Philippine fans). If the Cavs succeed, it will mark their first-ever title, as well as distinguish them as the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit. If the Finals weren’t appointment viewing before, the winner-take-all scenario willed into existence by the Cavs have gone a long way towards erasing any doubts.
In a series that began with them down 0-2, Cavs fans have become very much familiar with a feeling best summed up with, “just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in,”. In this case, it was King James leading the pulling, ending Game 6 with a 41-point performance that came hot off the heels of the 41-point show he and Kyrie Irving put on in Game 5 – the first time two teammates had ever accomplished the feat in a single Finals game.
Right off the bat, Game 6 was a thrill ride, as the Cavs’ ended the first quarter with a 22-point lead. With center Andrew Bogut out of commission following a Game 5 injury, the Warriors fell to the Cavs’ do-or-die mentality, as the Cleveland squad maintained a double-digit lead over the incumbent champs for nearly the entire game.
James himself played like a man possessed, with the four-time MVP directly or indirectly responsible for nearly one of his team’s points. Meanwhile, the usually-dependable Stephen Curry, who’s been hounded by fouls all throughout the series actually found himself ejected from the game, leading the generally amiable star to hurl his trademark mouthguard at a fan in frustration.
Ultimately, this is more than a face-off between reigning Curry and James: In coming back from their 3-1 deficit, the Cleveland squad has shown it’s hunger, and James, making his sixth consecutive Finals appearance has never been one to be underestimated. As for the Warriors, one year removed from their 2015 Cinderella run to the title, a back-to-back Championship would be the icing on the cake for their record-setting 73 victories over the regular season.
At this point, as both sides steel for Game 7 with hearts on fire and everything on the line, this championship is going to go to the team that wants it more.