Cavaliers dominate in Oakland, but still down 3-2

FitzbeatsquareOAKLAND, CA — With Cleveland trailing them 3-1 in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors Monday night on their home court failed to clinch their second-straight NBA Championship.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had a lot to do with it. They combined for 82 points, both scoring 41 each in Cleveland’s 112-97 win in Oakland. Draymond Green of the Warriors was suspended for game five for his flagrant foul in game four. Warriors starting center Andrew Bogut sustained a left knee injury that requires an MRI.

NBA FInals 2Suddenly game six on Thursday in Cleveland, where the Cavs are 8-1 in the playoffs, reminds us that with a championship on the line anything can happen. The Warriors have history on their side — never before in the NBA Finals has a team leading 3-1 not gone on to win the NBA Championship. Only the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Rockets, Pistons and Heat have won back to back championships.

Can you say 32-0? James, the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Champion, is in the NBA Finals for a record-tying sixth straight season.

James, among the greatest players to ever play the game, is in a bit of a pickle. If the Warriors repeat as champions and join the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and Pistons, it would be the fifth time James would have lost in the NBA Finals. Bill Russell won 11 NBA titles, Robert Horry won seven, Michael Jordan won six, and Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant won five NBA titles each.

Jerry West, the man whose image is on the NBA Logo, was 1-8 with the Lakers in the NBA Finals. His teammate Elgin Baylor was 1-7. If James and Kyrie Irving fail to come back versus the Warriors, James would be 2-5 all-time in the NBA Finals. Not very flattering for the “Chosen One” or “King” as he has been nicknamed.

James and Irving are the first teammates to both score 40 points or more in an NBA Finals game. Irving is averaging 28.2 points per game in the NBA Finals and has scored 30 points or more in three straight games. More importantly, the Cavaliers have won two of those games, one by 30 points in game three.

James’ 41 points and 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks spoke to his focus and determination to win. James has become categorized as the instigator in the confrontation with Green that resulted in the suspension from game five. James was on a mission to prove something, and he did.

He led the Cavaliers; he dominated; and the others, Irving and Tristan Thompson specifically, with 15 rebounds and Irving’s 41 points, are believers in the Cavaliers’ chances of coming back against this great Warriors team. When the Warriors back court of Klay Thompson (37 points) and Stephen Curry (25) score 62 points combined, the Warriors win virtually every game.

Game six is Thursday in Cleveland with the championship at stake. The Warriors only once all year lost back-to-back playoff games. They have great pride and are very well coached by Steve Kerr, who’s trying to become the first since John Kundler’s 1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers to win NBA titles his first two seasons.

Green will return Thursday. The Warriors are up 3-2 on Cleveland Thursday in Cleveland with 88 combined wins, the most all-time. This is must-see TV.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.