Friday, June 17, 2016
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) blocks the shot by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Cavaliers took another step in their historic comeback attempt with a 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday to force a once-unthinkable decisive seventh game to the NBA Finals.
The LeBron James-led Cavaliers, one victory away from becoming the first team to win an NBA championship after falling behind 3-1 in the Finals, will now head to Oakland for Sunday’s deciding game riding a wave of momentum.
Cleveland used an explosive first half in which they led by as many as 22 points to set the tone and never allowed the usually sharp-shooting Warriors to settle into a rhythm or get any closer than seven points the rest of the way.
The Cavaliers built a 24-point lead in the third that looked like it might spell the end for the Warriors but the reigning champions finally closed out the quarter on a 10-0 run to pull within nine points.
But the Cavaliers, who got a game-high 41 points from James, managed to hang on for the win and keep alive their hopes at a maiden NBA championship.
Stephen Curry scored a team-high 30 points for the stunned Warriors but the two-time reigning league Most Valuable Player fouled out of the game late in the fourth quarter and then, in a rare display of frustration, threw his mouthguard into the stands to earn the first ejection of his career.
After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Cavs were left for dead by many impartial observers who expected the top-seeded defending champion Warriors to run away with the series, some even calling for a four-game sweep.
But after splitting the next two games, the resurgent Cavs used a sparkling Game Five performance to shift momentum in their favor and, perhaps, place a seed of doubt in the minds of the Warriors.
The Cavaliers are now just the third team to force a Game Seven after falling behind 3-1, joining the 1951 New York Knicks and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers.
With the win, the Cavaliers also kept alive their quest for a maiden NBA title that would be Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.
(Editing by Steve Keating)