The Cavaliers won a thrilling game seven 93-89 at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, this morning, Australian time.
The first six games of the series were blowouts, but the finale was fitting of a title game.
The lead see-sawed in the final quarter until the scores remained locked at 89-89 with both teams unable to score for almost three minutes before the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving hit a three-pointer with 53.1 seconds left.
LeBron James sealed the championship with two free throws after a hard foul from the Warriors’ Draymond Green.
Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue left Dellavedova on the bench for the entire game, opting to go with veteran Mo Williams as back-up point guard to Irving, while the Warriors’ Australian centre Andrew Bogut was also missing after his season-ending knee injury in game five.
It is the third straight year an Australian has claimed an NBA championship ring, with Bogut winning one last year with the Warriors and Patty Mills and Aron Baynes victorious with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
It was a tough way to end a great season for the Warriors who were defending the title and had set a 73-win, nine-loss regular season record, breaking the mark set by Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
The Warriors pounced on the Cavaliers early, dropping 10 three-pointers in the first half, with Draymond Green scoring 22 of his 28 points in the period.
The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 27-19 in the second quarter to take a 49-42 half-time lead.
The Cavaliers came out of the break inspired and took a 70-63 lead with three minutes left in third quarter, but the Warriors fought back to go into the final quarter up 76-75.
The lead see-sawed in the final quarter with LeBron James attempting to lead the Cavaliers’ to their first title, while Warriors’ Steph Curry and Klay Thompson dropped long bombs.
With Cavaliers’ outmuscling the Warriors in game six, Warriors coach Steve Kerr attempted to bulk up his starting line-up with centre Festus Ezeli instead of guard Andre Iguodala.
It had mixed results with Ezeli missing his first three shots, although he helped control Cavaliers’ centre Tristan Thompson who exploited Bogut’s absence in game six.
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