I think the fact that I'm blogging this on a Sunday answers how important the game is.
First off, happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Most under appreciated people on earth, dads.
Tonight marks the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, after tonight either the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers will be NBA champions. We all know the cliches, it's game 7, it's all on the line, blah, blah, blah. But tonight without question is the biggest game in years for the NBA.
This series has been very weird to me, as it is tied 3-3, but no games have been decided by single digits. What is even weirder to me is that both teams have scored the exact same amount of points for the series, 610. That's never happened before in the NBA. The fact that the series could be so even despite blowouts is bizarre. The Warriors have won despite the fact that Steph Curry has not played like the unanimous MVP Steph Curry. The Cavs have gotten essentially no production out of Kevin Love. Yes the usual suspects of Lebron and Kyrie have played great but the Cavs have been relying on the most bizarre supporting cast in NBA history. Richard Jefferson who was a big part of the NBA Finals....in 2002 and 2003 is playing major minutes for the Cavs in 2016. Guys who were big parts of the Cavs 2015 run like Matthew Dellavedova or Timofey Mozgov have been non-factors.
Given the circumstances you could honestly make the argument that this is the most important game of all time, IMO it is definitely the most important game of my basketball fandom lifetime. I'm not nearly as big of an NBA guy as I am NFL or MLB but I know a decent amount about league history. This game has SO much on the line for the legacy of the new face of the league, Steph Curry and for the old face of the league, Lebron James. Much is at stake for their respective franchises as well. Let me explain my reasoning to you. Let's start with GSW and Steph.
Everybody knows the Warriors story. They went 73-9, just eclipsing the 95-96 Chicago Bulls regular season win record of 72-10. It was a hot topic around sports media, mainly ESPN and twitter if it was worth it for the Warriors to go all out for the record instead of resting for the playoffs. They went for it, and got it, and now are just one win away from capping off the season with a championship.
However, the Warriors find themselves in an elimination game yet again. After coming back from down 3-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, now the Warriors find themselves on the other side of a comeback. As they are trying to avoid blowing a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. Something that has never been done in NBA history (that fact blows my mind).
Idk if it's my bias but all season I have I see a ton of the 2007 Patriots in the 2015-16 Warriors. There were talks of the Patriots being the greatest team of all time all season long even before the Super Bowl. Same with the Warriors. Tom Brady won MVP and broke the passing TD record, (Randy Moss broke the receiving TD record). Steph Curry was a unanimous MVP and broke his own 3 pointer record. They didn't rest starters. Neither did the Warriors. They went for blood. They wanted to be the best. They went for the perfect 19-0 season. Just like the Warriors went to get more than 72 wins. After starting hot they slowed down towards the end of the season but kept winning, instead of winning by 4 touchdowns they had to start grinding out wins. Similar to the Warriors. Yet they still were 18-0 and looked to beat a 10-6 frankly not very good Giants team. Obviously you can't go 82-0 in the NBA, so I've always thought of the win record as a similar accomplishment for the league. In the Super Bowl the Patriots didn't play great, but they still were in a position to win, they took the lead with like 2:30 minutes left and were that close to an undefeated season. But a series of miraculous events prevented them from perfection. The Warriors were up 3-1 and had blown out the Cavs in all 3 victories. They seemingly were going home to the Bay Area to close it out in 5. But Draymond Green got suspended and the series has slipped away, the Cavs have fought back and won two straight to force a game 7. Will the Warriors be able to hold on at home in a game 7 or will they end of being the NBA's version of 18-1? If the Warriors lose will they be remembered as chokers like the 07 Pats? Because make no mistake about it, if the Warriors lose this game it is a HUGE choke, and IMO worse because it's a in a series not just one game, but until like 3 days ago nobody hated the Warriors like the Patriots are hated. Will they face the same scrutiny? In all sports we talk about "the best to never_______" Best teams/players/coaches to never win a championship, in sports like football or baseball I feel like there are concrete answers for best teams to not finish the job, the 2007 Patriots are clearly that team, if the Warriors lose tonight will that become their lasting legacy?
As for Steph, this season was HIS season, all the highlights, the 400+ 3 pointers, the game winners, the half court shots he seemed to hit once a games, he was something else to see. After all he accomplished he became the first unanimous MVP in league history, something that didn't sit well with Lebron fans (Stans). But if he loses this series with a superior team to Lebron James and is clearly out played by Lebron how can you not say Lebron is still the best player in the league? I'm not even a Lebron guy but if the Warriors lose to Lebron after everything that they accomplished this season it is a bad look for both the team and Steph individually. Even though he still has years left, and probably more titles left in him, tonight's game is enormous for Steph's lasting legacy. Either 2-0 with the best team in NBA history, or 1-1 and the only team to ever blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals (WITH 2 GAMES at HOME including GAME 7). The Crying Jordan faces will be out in full force should the Warriors lose tonight.
As for Lebron. I've hated Lebron for over a decade. He's a great talent, but he was a big rival to my Celtics for 5 years and I really hate who he is off the court, but throughout this series even I have began to appreciate how good he is at basketball.
Lets start with a fact: Lebron is 2-4 in the NBA Finals.
It's big knock the critics have against him. With a loss tonight it would drop Lebron to 2-5 in the NBA Finals. At 31 years old it would be EXTREMELY unlikely for him to be able to finish his career with a wining record in the finals or even .500. Lebron would need to go 4-0 to finish 6-5 which I just don't see happening. Yes, for some of his Eastern Conference Championships (2007) it was just an accomplishment to get there, but it's still an L. It may not be fair but that's how it goes. If Lebron and the Cavs lose tonight there is a 0% chance Lebron retires with a winning record in the NBA Finals. With Michael Jordan at 6-0, perfect. That will be the ultimate trump card when talking legacies.
However, should Lebron and the Cavs win tonight. It will move Lebron to 3-4 all time in the Finals. With his 3rd championship coming with a 2nd franchise, back home in Cleveland, for a city that has not won a Championship since 1964. 52 years since a team with Cleveland in it's name to win a World Championship. Quickly, this is the most important game for Cleveland probably ever. A win tonight gives the city a championship. Think about that, how close this loser city is to ending it's misery, at least for a little while. Plus if the Cavs win it means they came back from a 3-1 hole against statically the greatest (regular season) team in NBA history. Should he be able to pull that off, it will be quite the feather in the cap for the career legacy that is Lebron James. Nobody has ever come back from down 3-1 in the FINALS. Plus also from the mathematical standpoint, although it would be difficult, there would definitely still be a possibility that Lebron could retire with a winning or even record in the NBA Finals. 4-4 would look a hell of a lot better than 2-5 or worse (obviously).
So to recap what I could've blogged in a paragraph. There is a ton at stake for the league's two biggest stars. If GSW wins, it means record wise, this the greatest team ever. You may think their is a Bulls, Lakers or Celtics team better but they will have the numbers to back it up. Steph will have 2 league MVPs and 2 championships in 2 years. That will be huge. But if they lose it is one of the biggest chokes in the history of sports. Talk about two completely different legacies.
For Lebron, there is MUCH more on the line, as time is becoming a factor now for him, he can't play forever. A win tonight brings him back to 3-4 in the finals, gives Cleveland a championship and just overall means a lot more to his legacy then Steph's. Obviously a loss of the Warriors would hurt, but they're (semi) young and still have a window. With Lebron the clock is running out, obviously he isn't done and could still win another championship but it is no guarantee. There is a lot more at stake for King James tonight.
It's crazy that this one game matters so much but it does. We will all be watching history enfold in front of us tonight.
As for the game itself, I'm very torn. History says the Warriors should win, teams playing a game 7 at home in the Finals are like 15-3. Road team hasn't won since I believe 1978 when the Bullets did but that doesn't mean the Cavs can't win. Vegas has GSW as a 4.5 point favorite, I love to gamble but am staying away. I want the Cavs to win, which is crazy coming from me but my hate for Lebron has died down as I've aged, I feel really bad for Cleveland and think they deserve it, but all the shit talking from Lebron dick riders that would come with a championship makes it really hard to root for. I hate to sound like my mom but I really just want a good game, game 7's are very rare and when they stink it sucks. But you know what screw it, I have nothing to lose, I'll take the Cavs tonight. I want Cleveland to win and I'd like to see my man Don get one ring in his lifetime.
Let's just hope it isn't rigged and is a good game.