So now it’s Game 7. In Boston.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
One game, one win, stands between LeBron James and a preposterous eighth consecutive trip to The Finals. One game, one win, stands between your Cleveland Cavaliers and a fourth consecutive trip to The Finals.
One game. In Boston.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The evidence from Games 1 through 6 says Game 7 is going to turn out badly for the Cavs, because neither team has won a game on the road, and that’s where the Cavs will be Sunday.
In Games 1, 2 and 5 in Boston, the Cavs went 0-3 and were outscored by 51 points. They weren’t very competitive in any of them — just like Boston had trouble hanging with the Cavs in the three games in Cleveland. In Games 3, 4 and 6, the Celtics went 0-3 and were outscored by 49 points.
America is begging for a close game in the Eastern Conference finals, but these two teams stubbornly refuse to play one.
Enjoy the euphoria of the Cavs’ desperation 109-99 victory in a win-or-go-home Game 6 Friday at The Q. The Cavs did what they had to do to get to where history says they shouldn’t want to go — on the road. To the Garden in Boston.
But America deserves a winner from this seven-game slam dance, and it shall get one Sunday. It’s winner-take-all, in the gym where the Cavs have been unable to do anything but play patsy for the Celtics and their ravenous fans.
On the other hand, the Cavs — for at least one more game — still have LeBron James on their side.
If you’re going to basketball war, there is nobody better to have leading the charge than the most perfect basketball machine ever created — even if he might be a little winded.
That machine was on full display in Game 6 Friday night, unleashing a monstrous display of domination. A basketball force of nature. When the Cavs needed it the most, he delivered a full wrecking ball demolition: 46 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
“We needed him to be big, and he was big,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “He brought us home.”
He shot 52 percent from the field (17-for-33) and 71 percent from behind the arc (5-for-7), including two dagger threes from his favorite spot on the left wing, late in the game that served as a dismissive “nice try fellas, you can run along now,” pat on the head to the vanquished Celtics.
“We played tremendous defense on both shots. The first one was ridiculous. Hats off to LeBron,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
The Machine played 46 of a possible 48 minutes and basically did whatever he wanted to do, when and how he wanted to do it.
“The best player in the game,” said Stevens. “He had a special game. He put on a tremendous show.”
Now all LeBron has to do is do it again. In Game 7. It’s the second seven-game series for the Cavs in these playoffs. They won the first one, against Indiana, but that one was in Cleveland.
In that Game 7, LeBron went for 45 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He’ll probably have to duplicate or surpass that Sunday for the Cavs to advance to a fourth-consecutive NBA Finals, because it’s questionable whether the Cavs’ second-leading scorer, Kevin Love, will even play in the game.
Love only played five minutes Friday, leaving with a concussion after an inadvertent head butt from Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. But with Love done for the night, the Cavs closed ranks, got a big game from their bench and from point guard George Hill, who had 20 points and only one turnover.
Larry Nance Jr. chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds, and Jeff Green had a nice all-around game with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
So now it’s back to Boston for the grand finale. Expect a slugfest. The youthful, chippy Celtics, egged on by their famously fanatic fans, are going to be in the grill of the older, slower Cavs, on both ends of the court.
What the Celtics don’t have, of course, is The Big LeBronski. In the Cavs’ 96-83 loss in Game 5, he looked, played and acted like he was out of gas.
Hey, so he’s human.
In Game 6 Friday night, he looked superhuman: gassed up, revved up and souped up. If he has one more in him like that, the Cavs’ season won’t end Sunday.
The Cavs are 0-3 in Boston in this series, but they are still alive. Sunday is winning time. If The Machine can churn out one more game for the ages, he’ll bring the Cavs home.
On the road.
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