NBA Finals Preview: title-deciding Game 7 looms as history beckons for James and Curry

The Golden State Warriors will host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Oracle Arena on Sunday night in what will be a season-defining Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. The Cavaliers have always trailed in the best-of-seven series but two consecutive victories including one on the road in Oakland have forced a title-deciding Game 7. The Cavaliers are only the third team to have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and force a Game 7. Despite winning the last two games, no team has won the Larry O’Brien Trophy having gone down 3-1. History is on the line.

The Warriors come off the best regular season in NBA history winning 73 wins, beating the previous record of 72 set in 1995-96 by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. They will try to defend their title and become only the seventh team in NBA history to win back-to-back NBA Championships. The Warriors are led by 28 year-old Steph Curry, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player.

The Cavaliers meanwhile will be looking to win their first NBA title in franchise history and in doing so avenge last years’ Finals defeat against the Warriors. The Cavs are led by two-time NBA Champion LeBron James, who scored 41 points in each of the last two games, becoming only one of six players to score back-to-back 40-point games in the Finals, with only Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal achieving the feat in the last 30 years.

NBA fans in the UK will be able to watch the game live on BT Sport 1 or connect from their favourite device and purchase Game 7 via NBA LEAGUE PASS for only £7.99. This is the first time that NBA fans have the opportunity to purchase individual games of the NBA Finals from the NBA’s on-demand service.

MVP Steph Curry spoke ahead of Game 7, commenting on the possibility of winning his second consecutive title with the Warriors: “It’s a great opportunity for us at home in front of our fans to, again, try to win a championship. So we’re going to need some emotion and some grit and toughness for that game.”

Curry also commented on LeBron James’ efforts to keep the series alive: “He’s playing great. He’s doing things that are game-changing and helping his team win. He’s been more aggressive, I think, shooting the ball. He’s had two great games to keep his team alive. You know, that’s what he’s supposed to do. I’m out there trying to do the same for my team. We don’t go one-on-one at each other a lot, but it’s a pretty competitive feeling out there with the situation of playing in.”

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James also spoke ahead of Game 7. Asked about his improved efficiency, he said: “I give a lot of credit to my teammates and my coaching staff to put me in position to be successful. I mean, without the ball moving, without the screens being set, without the coaching staff putting out the game plans for us offensively then, what I’ve been able to do, it doesn’t happen. So those guys definitely get the credit.”

Commenting on the Cavaliers’ chances to win Game 7, James said: “I guess we just take one day at a time. We haven’t rushed to get to a Game 5. We didn’t rush to get to a Game 6. And we won’t rush to get to a Game 7 on Sunday. At the end of the day this is going to be it for all of us.. One more game left, and we’re going to give it all we’ve got, and the Warriors will do the same, and we’ll live with the results. That’s how you go about it.”

Game 7 of the NBA Finals takes place in Oakland on Sunday 19 June at 1 a.m. BST (Monday 20/06). Watch it live on BT Sport 1 or via NBA LEAGUE PASS (www.nba.tv)

Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty/NBA