DAVID BIANCULLI

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2016 NBA FINALS
June 19, 2016  | By David Bianculli

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

 

One ESPN writer, in trying to put tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7 in perspective, wrote, “This is as big as sports gets.” On the one side: The Golden State Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, whose confident, long-distance style of play has changed the game of pro basketball. The Warriors are the defending NBA champions, having beaten LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in six games last year, and also are coming off the best regular season in basketball history. The Warriors’ regular-season record was 73-9, eclipsing the former record-holding 1996 Chicago Bulls, whose record was 72-10. In this year’s postseason finals against Cleveland, the Warriors took a 2-0 lead, then a 3-1 lead. Before the Cavaliers did it Thursday night, only two teams in the history of pro basketball have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to force a Game 7. Those teams were the 1951 New York Knicks and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers – so it’s been 50 years. And no team down 3-1 in the finals has ever won in that crucial seventh game, which makes it look daunting for Cleveland, especially with home-court advantage reverting to the Warriors. But just as a Warriors win would cement its place in history, a Cleveland upset would do the same thing for the Cavaliers, and for James in particular. It’s been more than 50 years since any Cleveland pro sports team has won a championship, and that’s what James came back to Cleveland to accomplish. As big as sports gets? It’s certainly close…

 
 
 
 
 
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