The Cleveland Cavaliers forced a Game 7 by winning the last two games against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Warriors are trying to repeat as champions after a record-breaking 73-win regular season. The Cavaliers are trying to end a 52-year title drought Sunday in Oakland at Oracle Arena.
Keys to Game 7 of NBA Finals Between Cleveland Cavaliers & Golden State Warriors
Here are the keys to look for that will likely determine which team is crowned the new NBA champion:
Cavaliers Must Play Strong Defense:
The Cavaliers have stepped up their defense, especially on Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. The Cavaliers will have to continue to play their best defense against one of the best shooting teams in league history to have a chance at winning. Tristan Thompson has the best real plus minus effect on his team. Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes have all struggled when Thompson guards them on switches.
Make Stephen Curry Work on Defense:
The Cavaliers have been most successful when they run Curry through multiple screens on offense. This makes Curry work harder than he is used to and it is affecting Curry’s game two-fold. First, Curry is tired and his late game shooting has not been at the same MVP-pace it was all season and most of the playoffs.
Second, Curry is not using his footwork on defense and is consequently leaning and slapping at the ball. By abandoning sound defensive fundamentals, Curry is picking up more fouls. Curry fouled out of Game 6 because he was tired, not due to any NBA conspiracy.
Is Andre Iguodala Healthy?
Iguodala suffered a back injury Game 6 that clearly limited him. The Warriors have stated that Iguodala is fine for Game 7. However, if he is not healthy, LeBron James will be the biggest beneficiary. No one has limited James on offense more than Iguodala. James is has a 14% better shooting average when guarded by any other player than Iguodala. James also averages nearly six turnovers per game guarded by Iguodala compared to two turnovers when covered by other players.
LeBron James Shooting Percentage:
James has shot 44.4% in the Cavalier victories this series. James has shot 20% in all three Cavalier losses. Thus, watch James first few shots. They may tell the tale of the game. James also seems to get into a better game rhythm when he shoots well from the outside. It helps open up the drive for him and often pumps him up.
How Much Will Kevin Love play?
The Cavaliers found a secret weapon this series. Don’t play Kevin Love. Love’s terrible screen defensive switches exposed the Cavaliers. Once Love missed a game due to a concussion, the Cavaliers defense tightened up. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue did not play Love in the fourth quarter of Cavaliers Game 6 victory. The NBA championship may be determined by how little Love plays.
Here is hoping that Game 7 lives up to the hype and is a great game. A lot rides on the balance on which team wins. There is no tomorrow tonight in Oakland.