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The Cleveland Cavaliers have taken a 14-point win in a dominant display in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, sending the series to Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors.
Back on their home floor at the Quicken Loans Arena, all the pressure was on Cleveland to get the win and send it to Game 7, as it was during Game 5 when they took one in the Warriors’ house.
The Eastern Conference champions raced out of the gates, getting away to an early 8-0 lead, in a first quarter that set the course of the game. The Warriors never quite found their way back in.
The lead was brought about by a fast-starting Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, as well as a perfect defensive structure that didn’t allow the Warriors to make a majority of their shots.
By the end of the first quarter it was the Cavaliers leading by 20 points, having at one point stretched the lead to 22. It was also the Warriors lowest-scoring quarter of the season, as they went into the first break down 31-11.
Tristan Thompson was the crucial cog in the defence during the first quarter, and indeed the entire game. After just 12 minutes of action Thompson had nine rebounds, including a few offensive ones, and by halftime had the double double.
Thompson’s combination with LeBron James on the offensive end was truly an incredible thing to watch, and throw in a firing Kyrie Irving – there was simply nothing the Warriors’ defence could do.
In a similar pattern to Game 3, the Warriors had little bursts of scoring and some solid defence at different points during the game, and nowhere was that more evident than the second quarter.
On the back of Klay Thompson’s shooting, they cut the lead to eight. Stephen Curry also started to find his range, but like a number of players struggled with foul trouble which severely limited his input.
James and Irving managed to get back into the game and take the Cavaliers away again, before a stretch led by bench player Dante Jones just before the halftime bell took the lead back out to 16.
The third quarter saw the Warriors take over the flow of the game, and another big run led by Curry and Thompson kept them in it. That was before Thompson scored 10 straight points on the cusp of three-quarter time to bring the lead back to single figures.
Of course, that wasn’t even the biggest run of the games with LeBron scoring 18 points for the Cavaliers without any of his teammates getting a bucket at one point.
LeBron would finish the game once again with 41 points, the exact same amount he finished with in Game 5, and even if the Cavaliers lose the series, now has to be an odds on favourite for the Finals MVP.
The fourth quarter was high scoring, and started out bucket-for-bucket. When Thompson missed a three-point bomb though, and things began to unravel it was clear Game 7 was going to be needed.
With just under half the final quarter remaining, Curry would pick up his sixth and final foul, before being called for a technical and ejected from courtside after throwing his mouthguard.
It wasn’t a pretty finish to the game for the two-time MVP, who was sent off the court by the Cleveland fans chanting ‘nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey goodbye’.
It started the final run for the Cavaliers, as they ran away with the 14-point victory, ending in a wire-to-wire victory.
It forces only the 17th Game 7 in the NBA Finals since 1950, with the last of those coming in 2013 when the Miami Heat came from 3-2 down to win the series against all the odds over the San Antonio Spurs.
Cleveland take all the momentum back to the Oracle Arena for Game 7 having won two straight. If they can continue their lock down defensive ways and silence the crowd early on, then they could well get the job done.
For Golden State, a massive turnaround of their last two games is needed.
Either way, the NBA Finals are going to Game 7 and it is set to be a cracker.
Field Goals: Cavaliers (40/77 @ 52%), Warriors (33/82 @ 40%)
Three-Pointers: Cavaliers (10/27 @ 37%), Warriors (15/39 @ 39%)
Free Throws: Cavaliers (25/32 @ 78%), Warriors (20/29 @ 69%)
Rebounds: Cavaliers (45), Warriors (35)
Offensive Rebounds: Cavaliers (8), Warriors (9)
Assists: Cavaliers (24), Warriors (19)
Steals: Cavaliers (12), Warriors (5)
Blocks: Cavaliers (7), Warriors (3)
Turnovers: Cavaliers (12), Warriors (14)
Fast break points: Cavaliers (19), Warriors (10)
Points in the paint: Cavaliers (42), Warriors (30)
Points: LeBron James (41)
Assists: LeBron James (11)
Rebounds: Tristan Thompson (16)
Golden State Warriors
Points: Stephen Curry (30)
Assists: Draymond Green (6)
Rebounds: Draymond Green (10)