Game 6 was a dazzling display of determination by the Cleveland Cavaliers to disallow the defending champs to repeat on their home floor yet again, as the Cavs defeated the Warriors 115-101 at home. There were a number of things that tell the tale of what happened, from individual performances to team reactions throughout the game, but below are the five most intriguing things that we believe happened that forced a Game 7 in Oakland on Sunday evening.
LeBron was LeBron, but he had help LeBron James had another spectacular performance, flirting with a triple double by getting 41pts-11asts-8rbs; however, he had help. Tristan Thompson had a double-double. Irving had 23pts and played well, and J.R Smith had 14pts while also getting some assists and steals. Even rarely used Dahntay Jones had an efficient 5pts in his 5 minutes on the court. Things were clicking all around for “Believeland”. A similar effort will have to be made in order to make history Sunday night.
Golden State’s key role players didn’t fully show up Despite the foul trouble all night, Steph Curry led his team in scoring and hit 6-three pointers; other than Klay Thompson (25pts), almost no one else showed up. Outside of Barbosa’s huge 14pts in 19 minutes, it was an off night. Green’s triumphant return was average with 8pts, 10rbs. Iguodala scored 5pts, Livingston had 3pts, and starter Harrison Barnes didn’t score at all. The Splash Bros were present and their usual selves, it’s just their bench was completely out of character. Game 7 will need the bench to act like Game 1 all over again, where they were the focal point when it came to scoring.
Controlling the paint dictated Cleveland’s offense Is this a typo error, or did the Cavs again score 42 points in the paint? The Warriors sure could use Bogut’s presence in the paint. The Cavs attacked the paint all night long, and it paid huge dividends for everyone, especially James. This contributed to the Cavs shooting 51.9% from the field, as all of the alley-oops, dunks, and lay-ups were high percentage shots that aided Cleveland’s dominant performance. Golden State is going to have to either keep up somehow with more fast break points caused by turnovers, or get back to making it rain with success from downtown.
Whoever wins the rebounding battle, wins the game The Cavs didn’t necessarily dominate the rebound battle (CLE 54, GSW 48), but upon closer look, they did have a fairly large lead in the defensive rebound battle edging out the defending champs 37-26. This is important because it shows Cleveland was diligent about disallowing the Warriors second or third-chance opportunities for points, which can really help a team that’s struggling to score. Had this been a closer comparison on the defensive glass, the score also would have likely reflected this as well.
Momentum is everything Golden State knows all about being down 3-1, so they should realize the momentum and confidence Cleveland will possess coming into Oakland on Sunday. Of course, history does not smile upon the Cavs, as no team in NBA Finals history has ever come back down from 3-1 to win a title. But, this is the first time in 50 years that a team down by that margin has tied it up; the Warriors can’t rely on history alone to insure a repeat. The Cavs have the momentum, and the Warriors need to get it back. Otherwise, “Believeland” will finally end a title drought the city is desperately parched for.