The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have had excellent battles over the past few years, and their latest again finished with Cavs’ point guard Kyrie Irving punishing the Warriors late.
Golden State won the Finals showdown between these teams in 2015, but the Cavs bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to win earlier this year, with Irving making a crucial go-ahead three-pointer over Steph Curry inside the final minute of Game Seven. Sunday’s Christmas Day game between the rivals also saw the Warriors get off to a hot start, and they led 94-80 partway through the fourth quarter, but Cleveland fought all the way back, and Irving scored what would be the crucial bucket with a drive, spin move and fadeaway jumper over Klay Thompson with less than five seconds left:
Here’s another look at it:
Irving only hit 11 of 27 shots from the field all day, but he hit this crucial one, and he finished with 25 points, 10 assists, seven steals and six rebounds. LeBron James had 31 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, while Kevin Love added 20 and six. Kevin Durant had 35 points and 15 rebounds in a losing cause for Golden State, while Thompson had 24 and two and Draymond Green had 16 and four.
The Cavaliers also managed to win the pre-game trolling battle, setting up the visiting locker room with a view of LeBron’s famous block from behind in the final moments of last year’s Game Seven, one where he already has a championship ring photoshopped onto his hand:
This is the door open just down the hallway from #Warriors locker room. #Cavs pic.twitter.com/8z41uI01pA
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) December 25, 2016
Well played, Cleveland. This game was yet more proof these teams have created one of the most exciting rivalries in the NBA. Who knows if they’ll wind up meeting in the Finals again, but if they do, it should certainly be memorable.