NBA Finals – Game 7 Road Warriors
With their dominating 115-101 win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers have forced the 19th Game 7 in NBA Finals history. The last Game 7 was in 2013 when the Heat beat the Spurs in Miami. Cleveland’s LeBron James and James Jones were part of that Heat squad and are the only players on either team with prior Finals Game 7 experience.
Some key stats:
- This series is only the third time, a team down 3-1 or worse forced a Game 7. The 1951 Knicks overcame a 3-0 deficit before losing in Rochester to the Royals in Game 7 and the 1966 Lakers came back from 3-1 before losing Game 7 in Boston Garden.
- The winner of Game 6 has an 8-10 record in Game 7.
- The home team has a 15-3 record in Game 7.
- Only two teams have won Game 6 and then won a Game 7 on the road.
The 1969 Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum which was packed with balloons with “World Champion Lakers” printed on them suspended from the rafters. It was the last game for Celtic legends Bill Russell and Sam Jones.
Notable similarities: The Celtics jumped on the Lakers early in Game 6 in Boston, taking a 55–39 lead at the half en route to a 99-90 win.
After winning Russell sought out and embraced Laker Jerry West and congratulated him on a tremendous series. West had averaged 38 points per game and had 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in Game 7. West won the inaugural Finals MVP award (which today is named the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy although he never won it) and remains the only player from the losing team to win it.
The only other team to accomplish this feat was the 1978 Washington Bullets led by future Hall of Famers Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. After the Seattle Sonics took a 3-2 lead, Bullets coach Dick Motta uttered his immortal quote: “the ‘opera’ isn’t over ’til the fat lady sings”.
Notable similarities: Like the Cavs, the Bullets dominated their opponent in Game 6, beating the Sonics by 35 points in Washington.
The Bullets returned to Seattle to win 105-99. It was the first (and only) NBA title for Washington and gave the city its first title since the 1942 Redskins won the NFL title. A 36-year drought, however, is nothing compared to Cleveland’s 62-year drought since the Browns won the NFL title in 1954.
Just as some fault LeBron for his Finals losses in Miami and Cleveland, Finals MVP Wes Unseld was able to put sweeps against the Bullets in the 1971 (to Milwaukee) and 1975 (Golden State) Finals behind him.
NBA Finals Game 7 History
|NBA FDate||Arena||Winner||Score||Losing Team|
|21-Apr-51||Edgerton Park Arena||Rochester Royals (1)||79–75||New York Knicks (1)|
|25-Apr-52||Minneapolis Auditorium||Minneapolis Lakers (1)||82–65||New York Knicks (2)|
|12-Apr-54||Minneapolis Auditorium||Minneapolis Lakers (2)||87–80||Syracuse Nationals (1)|
|10-Apr-55||Onondaga War Memorial||Syracuse Nationals (2)||92–91||Fort Wayne Pistons (1)|
|13-Apr-57||Boston Garden||Boston Celtics (1)||125–123 (2OT)||St. Louis Hawks (1)|
|9-Apr-60||Boston Garden||Boston Celtics (3)||122–103||St. Louis Hawks (3)|
|18-Apr-62||Boston Garden||Boston Celtics (5)||110–107 (OT)||Los Angeles Lakers (5)|
|28-Apr-66||Boston Garden||Boston Celtics (8)||95–93||Los Angeles Lakers (8)|
|5-May-69||The Forum||Boston Celtics (10)||108–106||Los Angeles Lakers (9)|
|8-May-70||Madison Square Garden||New York Knicks (4)||113–99||Los Angeles Lakers (11)|
|12-May-74||Milwaukee Arena||Boston Celtics (12)||102–87||Milwaukee Bucks (1)|
|7-Jun-78||Seattle Center Coliseum||Washington Bullets (7)||105–99||Seattle SuperSonics (1)|
|12-Jun-84||Boston Garden||Boston Celtics (17)||111–102||Los Angeles Lakers (15)|
|21-Jun-88||The Forum||Los Angeles Lakers (18)||108–105||Detroit Pistons(4)|
|22-Jun-94||The Summit||Houston Rockets (4)||90–84||New York Knicks (12)|
|23-Jun-05||SBC Center||San Antonio Spurs (5)||81–74||Detroit Pistons(9)|
|17-Jun-10||Staples Center||Los Angeles Lakers (23)||83–79||Boston Celtics(27)|
|20-Jun-13||American Airlines Arena||Miami Heat (8)||95–88||San Antonio Spurs (8)|
|19-Jun-16||Oracle Arena||Cleveland Cavaliers (5) at Golden State Warriors (9)|