It all comes down to Game Seven. The NBA Finals is going the distance after the Cleveland Cavaliers downed the Golden State Warriors in Game Six 115-101. Despite a 20 point night from Steph Curry and 25 from Klay Thompson, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavs to their second straight win to pull them even at 3-3. So now we have a one game winner-take-all game on Sunday in Oakland.
For the loser of this series it will be a shame. For the Warriors if they lose it will be a shame because they had a chance to the the NBA’s greatest single season team and would have won back to back titles, only to see it all go awry needing to win only one of the last three games, two of them at home. That will be tough to live with.
If the the Cavs lose, it will be a shame because they had a chance to end the suffering of the city of Cleveland, who has not won a pro sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns. The “Cleveland Curse” he seen a lot of heartbreaking finishes keep them from celebrating. The Browns have lost some heartbreaking AFC Playoff games, two to John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the 1980s in last minute fashion. They also have had to watch as their Browns left town for Baltimore where so far they have won two Super Bowls.
The Indians went to the World Series twice in the 1990s. In 1997 they only needed one good inning from closer Jose Mesa in Game Seven and they would have won it all. But Edgar Renteria drove home the winning run with two outs and the Florida Marlins won the World Series instead.
This is the Cavs third trip to the NBA Finals in the Lebron era. They have yet to take home the title. This is the first game they’ve had a chance to win it all, so a loss here would be especially painful. The Cavs have seen a lot of pain over the years. There was the Michael Jordan buzzer beater to win a playoff series that launched the Jordan era. There was losing the Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, then losing the Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic. Then the most painful of all was watching their favorite star, maybe of all time in all sports go to the Miami Heat and win two championships. After the 1997 World Series, Miami had to be the last place they would have wanted to see Lebron win two titles.
So this Game Seven will be about winning a championship and that is always the goal. But for these two teams it might even be more about not losing this one. Because as great as winning it will be, losing it will be worse.