Series tied 3-3
The Cleveland Cavaliers are one victory away from ending the city’s 52-year sports championship drought when they visit the defending champion Golden State Warriors in Sunday’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Cleveland is also looking to become the first team in NBA Finals history to recover from a 3-1 series deficit while Golden State strives to bounce back from two disappointing closeout failures, including an embarrassing performance in Game 6 in which two-time MVP Stephen Curry was ejected after throwing his mouthpiece and hitting a fan.
Cleveland’s last sports title was won by the 1964 Browns – before the NFL’s Super Bowl era – and forward LeBron James is doing his part to back up his vow to bring a championship to the city with back-to-back 41-point performances. The Warriors opened the door for the Cavaliers in Game 5 when stellar defensive forward Draymond Green served a suspension and the Game 6 meltdown marked a frustrating night for the Curry family as wife Ayesha accused the NBA Finals of being “absolutely rigged for money” before sinking into full retreat mode and deleting her social-media comments. Stephen Curry said Saturday that “if we come up short, we’ll all be very, very disappointed,” in regards to two opportunities already having been squandered while Cavaliers forward LeBron James is feeling confidence now that his squad has turned the series into a one-game winner-take-all. “You don’t put too much more added pressure on it because it’s a Game 7,” James said at Saturday’s press conference. “One thing we all know is it’s the last game of the season, so it’s not like you’re preserving any energy, be out there saying, ‘OK, I’ve got to keep my body ready for the next game.’ There’s no next game.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 5-point home favorites for this huge Game 7. They were bet down to -4.5 for a short period of time before being quickly bet back to -5. The total open at 206 and has bet up to 207. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: James is averaging 30.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists in the series and rose his play to even higher levels with Cleveland facing elimination. Point guard Kyrie Irving also has performed well in the series with three 30-point outings – a high of 41 – while averaging 27.3 points, and he is attempting to put the long-discussed Cleveland championship drought out of his mind. “After the game, we can worry about the rest of that stuff,” Irving said at Saturday’s press conference. “History will be made either way, regardless of both teams, win or lose. But we’re just really focused on what we can control, and (Sunday’s) game is just living in the moment.”
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State recorded an NBA-best 73-9 record in the regular season but things have been a bit different in the last two playoff series and the Warriors have dropped eight games overall in the postseason. “At the end of the day, we knew this wouldn’t be a walk in the park,” Green said at Saturday’s press conference. “It’s hard. It’s hard to win a championship. But we’ve never really been a team to lack confidence. We feel like we can do anything. That’s going to always be our mindset.” Curry has recovered from a slow start in the series by averaging 31 points over the past three games but Golden State is getting practically nothing from small forward Harrison Barnes, who is averaging 2.5 points on 2-of-22 shooting over the past two games.
FINALS MVP ODDS (Per Sportsbook.ag):
* Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games playing on two days rest.
* Warriors are 5-1 ATS in their last six games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Under is 4-0-2 in the last six meetings in Golden State.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Warriors last four home games.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Cavaliers last six games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
COVERS CONSENSUS: It’s close, but the public are giving the defending champs a very slight edge in Game 7, with 53 percent of wagers on the Warriors. When it comes to the total, bettors are hammering the Over, with 73 percent of bettors on it.