NBA Finals: Tony Z's 5 things to watch in Game 7

NBA Finals: Tony Z's 5 things to watch in Game 7


I woke up to a text from Ben Watson, the former Browns tight end (now with the Ravens) that read simply "Believeland". He then texted me again, saying he was explaining to three of his kids that their hometown is playing for a championship tonight. I've also done numerous radio interviews across the country during these Finals, and I can tell you, the feeling is widespread: almost everyone is rooting for the Cavaliers. This is such a feel-good story,  and it's long overdue. So, how do the Cavs make history and complete this comeback?


Follow LeBron's lead. I write about this all the time, but it's true, because nobody in NBA history has risen to the level that LeBron has in the Finals the past two years. For the second straight year, he's throwing down more than 30 points per game and averaging a near triple-double. You want something historic? He's your guy. He's gone for 41 and 41 the past two games, and there's no way he shrinks in the spotlight tonight.


Irving has outplayed the reigning league MVP in this series, to the point that Steph Curry can't guard him anymore. The Warriors are trying to hide Curry on defense. Kyrie's been that good. Let LeBron bring the ball up, allowing Kyrie to find space without the ball, and then kick it out to Irving. And watch him shred this Golden State defense.


We know we can count on LeBron, and Kyrie should continue doing his thing, but in this series, the third member of the Big 3 is Tristan Thompson. When he's been on the floor in the Finals, the Cavs are +38. When he's been off the floor, they're -38. They feed off his energy, and rebounds, and he's become even more of a factor with Andrew Bogut out. If Double T can produce another double-double, the Cavs will be great shape.


The fear going into Game 6, with Bogut out, was that the Warriors' small lineup of Curry, Klay, Iguodala, Barnes and Green would be almost impossible to stop. And no doubt, in spurts, that lineup has been the Warriors' best the past two years. But the Cavs outscored 'em 26-9 to start the game. Kyrie said it after Game 5: "We've figured it out". That certainly seemed true in Game 6, when the Cavaliers led from start to finish. Now they just need to prove it one more time. Win at Oracle, which they've done already (Game 5). Make history. And forever change the conversation when it comes to Cleveland sports. The time is now. Bring it home.

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