Klay Thompson was asked Thursday night after the Warriors' Game 6 loss what this season would mean if the Warriors failed to win the title. His response was similar to a lot of people's thoughts around the Bay Area.
"It's either win the whole thing or bust for us."
This statement rang true last night when Mo Speights' shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim, sending the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fan base into a frenzy.
The game was tied 89-89 with 1:09 remaining so it wasn't like the Warriors were embarrassed on their home floor or anything. It's the fact that the title was still within our grasp even after losing two straight. It hurts me and every Warrior fan to the core.
Stephen Curry's missed three resulted in the Cavaliers calling a timeout with 1:09 remaining, which set up Kyrie Irving's game winning three point shot. That stepback fadeaway shot was not only an incredibly difficult one but it was a three pointer shot over the greatest three point shooter we've ever seen in Steph Curry. Way to add insult to injury, Kyrie.
Speaking of Curry, he said before the game that he needed to play the best basketball of his life in Game 7 in order to bring a second NBA Championship to the Bay. Unfortunately, he came up well short of that goal.
"Of course," Steph said, when asked if he felt like he played up to his statement and if he felt responsible for the loss. "I didn't play efficient. I had some good moments, but didn't do enough to help my team win, especially down the stretch. I was aggressive, but in the wrong ways settling."
Curry ended up with 17 points on 6-19 shooting (4-14 from three) and led the Warriors with 4 turnovers. His first attempt swish during his pregame tunnel shot, something he's been doing for years, lead me and many people on Twitter to believe that we would indeed soon be witnessing one of Curry's greatest games ever.
That wasn't the case but it almost was for Draymond Green.
After being suspended for Game 5 and putting up a lackluster performance in Game 6, Green came out of the gate hot for the Warriors. He made all three of his field goal attempts in the first quarter and also had three assists and two rebounds. His second quarter was even better though, as he went for 15 points on 4-4 shooting from three. This helped Golden State to a 49-42 lead going into halftime.
The Warriors were scorching from three in the first half (10-21) while the Cavaliers were not (1-14). Even with this fact and momentum on our side, Golden State was unable to play their brand of basketball in the second half. They shot 37% from the field and 25% from three in the final 24 minutes, with MVP Steph Curry shooting 3-11, and the Warriors were unable to stop the locomotive that is Lebron James.
Lebron posted a triple-double (27-10-11) and had the greatest block on an Andre Iguodala layup attempt that I've ever seen. The game was tied 89-89 for almost three minutes in the fourth quarter but the Warriors could have easily broken that tie if it weren't for Lebron's quickness and incredible athleticism.
With less than two minutes remaining, the Warriors stole the ball and had a 2-1 fast break...or so they thought. Curry bounce passed to a streaking Iguodala, who had to jump and duck under JR Smith to lay it in. Unfortunately, his layup was destroyed into the backboard by Lebron's palm and the Cavaliers rebounded and pushed the ball the other way.
This one play set the tone for the final minute in the game.
After Kyrie's incredible three pointer over Curry, the Warriors still had a chance to score or tie the game. Golden State's possession soon after the made three was a 24 second isolation play, basically Curry going one on one against the slower Kevin Love. Ask any Warrior fan who they would want Steph to go up against on a final possession in a Game 7 and I guarantee you the majority of them say Love. However, Love must have realized the importance of the moment and was able to stay in front of Curry, forcing him to jack up an off-balanced, contested three.
One interesting tidbit is that the fourth quarter was very low scoring. The Cavs scored 18 while the Warriors scored only 13. You can attribute this to missed shots of course, as both teams shot horribly in the final quarter, but it's also because teams tend to slow down their offense in the final moments in order to really lock in and make sure they don't play too fast, which can lead to turnovers.
This season was a historic one, with both the Warriors and Stephen Curry shattering numerous records. Yet in order to cement their legacy as the greatest team in NBA history, they needed to win it all. The team fell short of their goal but should be applauded for their ridiculous shooting and defensive skills that brought them to the brink of back-to-back championships.
Klay said it best, championship or bust. The Warriors got busted by a hungrier Cavaliers team this year but I can't wait to see what Golden State does next year. The new season starts Thursday with the NBA Draft. Let's see what we can do to get us back on top.