The Warriors tried, but the NBA Finals is returning to Oakland.
On the back of LeBron James, questionable officiating and sloppy Golden State ball movement, the Cavaliers beat the Warriors 115-101 in a wire-to wire victory that will force a Game 7.
Thompson hit another just seconds later, and then added two more points slashing to the rim and laying the ball through the hoop. Thompson’s final two minutes of the third quarter added eight points to Cleveland’s none, the Cavaliers shooting hitting arctic temperature and Golden State beginning to heat up.
The Warriors offered little other than bricks until Leandro Barbosa sunk a two-pointer two minutes into the fourth quarter. Another 60 seconds passed before Stephen Curry hit from distance, and the Warriors pulled from what looked like an insurmountable deficit to down single digits.
LeBron James was the only member of the Cavs feeling anything close to confident, scoring in bunches late in the fourth quarter, including 18 consecutive points as Cleveland put the game out of reach.
Golden State trailed for the entire game, from being down 8-0 five minutes into the night, with the trend continuing for another 30 minutes.
The Warriors were cold. They didn’t look themselves. And compounding their issues was a group of referees who seemed content to look past any type of contact initiated by Cleveland.
Things got so bad, Stephen Curry — who hadn’t fouled out from a game since 2013, and had never been ejected from an NBA game in his career — was tossed after arguing a call in which he was mauled by three Cleveland defenders and then tossed his mouthpiece into the crowd.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr defended his MVP:
“He’s the MVP of the league, he gets six fouls called on him, three of them were absolutely ridiculous. He steals the ball from Kyrie clean at one point, LeBron flops on the last one, [referee] Jason Phillips falls for that for a flop. And this is the MVP of the league we’re talking about, these touch fouls in the NBA Finals. Let me be clear: We did not lose because of the officiating. They totally outplayed us, and Cleveland deserved to win.”
Kerr wasn’t done:
“I’m happy he threw his mouthpiece. He should be upset. … If they’re going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts, and then you’re going to call these ticky-tack calls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I’m don’t agree with that.”
It was the moment where the Warriors were officially done for the night.
Sunday they play their final game of the year on their home court, with what might be the biggest chip they’ve ever had on their shoulder.
Curry finished the night with 30 points, Thompson with 25 points and Draymond Green grabbed 10 boards with eight points and six assists.
James poured in 41 points for the second game in a row, and Cavs center Tristan Thompson added 16 rebounds.