Tonight could be the night a championship comes to the Bay Area for the first time in forty long years. Not only were there no titles in the interim, there were a whole bunch of non-competitive seasons and dismal ping-pong ball dream postseasons. To say tonight would be a big deal to The City would be an understatement. And they are favored to do just that, bring home a title, entering tonight as the favored squad in Vegas for the sixth straight game in this series (all of them).
There is just one thing standing in their way: The Best Player on the Planet. And though we all generally agree this to be true of LeBron, it was a bit odd that he decided to officially make it unanimous in his post game conference, despite it being a tangential answer to the question at best.
So was this a calculated move to take the pressure off his mates and instead bear the brunt solely on his massive shoulders? Or is it bravado for bravado and frustration’s sake?
We shall see tonight, in a game he seemingly HAS to single-handedly will the depleted and tired Cavs to the finish line by himself.
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Today’s Free Pick – NBA Finals Game Six
Golden State Warriors -4.5 at Cleveland Cavaliers (Total: 194)
I buy the fatigue storylines 100%. I just don’t buy that Cleveland is the ONLY team fatigued tonight after a cross-country flight and a quick turnaround. By the way, I like that the NBA went to a 2-2-1-1-1 Finals format as opposed to the 2-3-2, but why isn’t there an extra off day for travel? It’s just dumb. Golden State is the deeper team, but with Bogut basically a DNP-CD the last two games, Golden State has been distributing their minutes nearly as thinly as Cleveland. Granted, they haven’t done it for as many games, but remember Steph was treated for fatigue and dehydration after Game Six as well.
To me, this game comes down to how much, if anything, is left in the tank for ‘Bron. Can he go 40/12/12 or something insane while coaxing something resembling a contribution from Iman Shumpert and JR Smith (who again went ghost in the second half)? If so, they can compete tonight. Frankly neither result would stun me tonight, but I would be surprised to see the Cavs light up the scoreboard.
This game could very well be a grinder; Cleveland desperately slowing down the Cavs and pulling to total down with clock-chewing offensive rebounds and extra possessions. It could also go the other way; Golden State gets a lead and Cleveland sputters for yet another 12-16 point fourth quarter.
Either way, 194 points feels a bit ambitious. As a fan, I want a Game Seven. My lean is that Golden State closes them out tonight. My official pick is that the scoreboard holds both teams in check.
I hope I am writing you again Friday, but in the fairly likely chance this is it – thanks for a fun season. It was a lousy last few weeks but a pretty good year and Playoffs overall. I hope you enjoyed a fun season as well.