Cleveland Cavaliers take NBA Finals series to game seven after downing Golden State Warriors

Cleveland took another step in their historic comeback attempt with a 115-101 win over the Warriors to force a once-unthinkable final game after drawing the series level at 3-3

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 12:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 2:22pm

The Cleveland Cavaliers took another step in their historic comeback attempt with a 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors 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 3-1 behind, 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.

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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 of a maiden NBA championship.

“It’s two of the greatest words in the world, and that’s ‘game seven,’ so I’ll play it anywhere,” James told reporters when asked about hitting the road for Sunday’s game.

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.

“We know what kind of team we are, what we’re capable of, what we’ve accomplished so far, and how together we are,” said Curry.

“We haven’t splintered at all. I think we’re more mentally tough than letting two games not go our way kind of put any doubt in our heads.”

After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Cavaliers were left for dead by many impartial observers who expected the defending champion Warriors to run away with the series, some even calling for a four-game sweep.

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But after splitting the next two games, the resurgent Cavaliers used a sparkling game five performance to shift momentum in their favour 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.

“We want to give the city of Cleveland a championship. We want to give the state of Ohio a championship. We want to give the Cleveland organisation a championship,” said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.

“So that’s what we’re all about, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”