Game 6 of the NBA Finals was basically an extension of Game 5, ramped up another level to the point at which it was competitive for only a few moments.
The Cavaliers handed the Warriors their eighth loss this postseason. The Warriors lost just nine games in the regular season.
LeBron refuses to lose
From start to finish, Game 6 belonged to LeBron James.
He finished with 41 points and 10 assists. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that James is the fifth different player to have consecutive 40-point games within a single NBA Finals. The other five are Jerry West (1965 and 1969 Lakers), Rick Barry (1967 Warriors), Michael Jordan (1993 Bulls) and Shaquille O’Neal (2000 Lakers).
James also passed Hall of Famer John Havlicek into eighth place on the NBA Finals all-time scoring list and moved past Derek Fisher into fifth place on the all-time postseason 3-pointers list. The four players with more are Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Manu Ginobili and Kobe Bryant.
From 5:38 of the third quarter to 2:59 of the fourth, James scored or assisted on 35 of the Cavaliers’ 36 points.
James made 10 of 13 shots in the restricted area and assisted on five other makes in that zone. The Cavaliers shot 72 percent (18-of-25) in the restricted area in Game 6, their highest percentage of the series.
James also excelled on the defensive end. The Warriors shot 0-of-7 when guarded by James in Game 6.
Unsung hero: Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson picked the right time to play his best game, finishing with 15 points and 16 rebounds. He had seven points and nine rebounds in the first quarter. Entering the day, he was averaging six points and nine rebounds per game for the postseason.
Thompson had a double-double in a half for the first time in his postseason career.
As the chart on the right notes, the Cavaliers dominated when Thompson was the lone big man on the floor and struggled when they used any other lineup.
The home team has won the past six Game 7s of the NBA Finals. The last road team to win was the 1978 Washington Bullets (now Wizards), who defeated the Seattle SuperSonics. Like the Cavaliers, the Bullets won Game 6 of that series in a rout. That series is best known for Bullets coach Dick Motta, who used “The opera isn’t over ‘til the fat lady sings” as a rallying cry for his team.
The other road teams to win Game 7 were the 1969 Celtics (against the Lakers) and the 1974 Celtics (against the Bucks).
History also shows that Game 7 is not a game that MVPs lose. The NBA MVP has won 18 straight Game 7s.