Preview: NBA Finals Game 7 notes
The Warriors and Cavaliers will play Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals tomorrow, Sunday, June 19 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN Radio. Defending champion Golden State is seeking its fifth NBA title and looking to clinch a championship on its home floor for the first time in the franchise’s West Coast era. Cleveland has erased a 3-1 deficit to move within one victory of its first NBA championship. Here are notes for Game 7, from the league:
The Warriors and Cavaliers will play the 19th Game 7 in Finals history. Home teams are 15-3 in these deciding games, including six consecutive victories. The last time the road team won a Game 7 in The Finals was 1978, when the Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics. Neither Golden State nor Cleveland has ever played a Finals Game 7.
Before last year, no player had ever averaged at least 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a Finals series. LeBron James is on track to do it for the second consecutive season. Add in his 2.7 steals and 2.2 blocks during this series, and his Finals 2016 production in these five statistical categories is unprecedented. James has scored 41 points in each of the last two games. Michael Jordan is the only player with as many as three straight 40-point Finals games (he had four in a row in 1993). The only 40-point performances in a Finals Game 7 are from Jerry West (42 in 1969) and Elgin Baylor (41 in 1962).
Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue is looking to become the sixth active head coach with an NBA title, a group composed of Dallas’ Rick Carlisle, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers (who won a championship with Boston) and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra. Lue is also seeking to win a title in his first season as an NBA head coach – something no one had accomplished for more than 30 years before Kerr did so last year. … As for Kerr: With a victory, he would join the Minneapolis Lakers’ John Kundla as the only coaches to win championships in their first two seasons as NBA head coaches.
To become the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win The Finals, Cleveland will have to hand Golden State a third consecutive loss – a streak the Warriors have never suffered in coach Steve Kerr’s two seasons. The Warriors’ last three-game losing streak was Nov. 20-23, 2013, during the 2013-14 regular season. Golden State went through the entire 2015-16 regular season without losing back-to-back games before dropping Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Thunder and Games 5 and 6 of The Finals to the Cavaliers.
Only two of the last 31 No. 1 overall draft picks have won an NBA championship with the team that selected them: David Robinson (Spurs, drafted in 1987) and Tim Duncan (Spurs, 1997). If Cleveland wins Game 7, LeBron James (Cavaliers, 2003) and Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers, 2011) would join the list. James played his first seven seasons with Cleveland, spent the next four seasons with Miami and rejoined the Cavaliers in 2014. Irving has spent his entire five-year career with the Cavaliers.
If the Warriors win Game 7 on Father’s Day, Golden State guard Klay Thompson and his father, Mychal, would become the second father-son combination to have both won multiple NBA championships. (Mychal won titles with the Lakers in 1987 and 1988.) The only father-son duo with more than one championship each is Luke Walton (2009 and 2010 Lakers) and Bill Walton (1977 Trail Blazers and 1986 Celtics). Luke is a Warriors assistant coach who will be the Lakers’ head coach next season.
The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award will be presented after Game 7. The award’s namesake is the king of winner-take-all games in championship series: Russell went 5-0 in Finals Game 7s, averaging 20.4 points and 32.0 rebounds.