OAKLAND — Game 7 has lived up to the hype.
The score was 76-75 Warriors after three.
OAKLAND — We’ve seen this movie before.
This time Curry talked a little to LeBron, Draymond Green stepped in just to play Switzerland, and there was a little jawing. Nothing more. But it sets the stage for the second half.
The Warriors lead 49-42 at the half behind a monster 22-point half from Green.
OAKLAND — in case you thought LeBron James had lost a step, we bring you this.
Through what had been an at times sloppy first quarter (LeBron had three turnovers, as many as he had in each of the last two games) but he had a few big buckets, and none as impressive as this, which was set up by a poor gamble by Stephen Curry (who was up and down in the first 12 minutes).
Tell me again if you think he’s lost a step.
OAKLAND — After he moved through the second half of Game 6 like an old man, Andre Iguodala has been receiving treatment on his back, which was racked with spasms during Thursday night’s contest. A game he started.
It seems to have kept him out of the start of Game 7.
Steve Kerr is starting Festus Ezeli at center and bringing Iguodala off the bench for Game 7 — no death lineup from the opening start. The rest of the starters remain the same: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green.
Kerr can argue that Ezeli brings some of the shot blocking and paint protection to open the game that they lack with Andrew Bogut out since his knee injury in Game 5. If Ezeli plays well, that is true, but he was repeatedly torched by the Cavaliers in Game 6. And something the Warriors don’t talk a lot about, Ezeli has plenty of bumps and bruises of his own right now.
This is likely about keeping Iguodala’s minutes in check early, so that he can play more late as needed. Iguodala is the best defender the Warriors have on LeBron James. If he can’t do it, the job falls to Green, with some Barnes, but that’s a step back and messes with other player rotations.
OAKLAND — Professional athletes are creatures of routine. That even extends to Game 7 of the NBA Finals — the biggest stage in basketball. Guys don’t mess with their routine.
“I mean, it’s a special day, but you try to keep the same routine,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “So Luke (Walton) and I went to yoga like we always do every game day. You probably didn’t know that, did you? I’m guessing Bill Belichick and his staff don’t do that. Just throwing that out there.”
Sixty minutes of Bikram Yoga to answer your question.
“Pregame we have breakfast, and then we had a walkthrough in the ballroom, and I went back and took my nap like I always do,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said with a smile on his face.
The question is will routine and familiarity help the key players in Game 7 ward off nerves.
For Kerr, the specific question is can he get through to wingman Harrison Barnes, who has struggled with his shot the last two games and needs to find it quickly in Game 7 or he will be watching a lot of it from the bench (and Kerr’s options to replace him lack Barnes’ versatility).
“The biggest thing is to realize in the Playoffs and especially The Finals the spotlight is big and there are moments for everybody where things don’t go great and you have to fight through that. And just be solid,” Kerr said of his efforts to coach Barnes and provide advice the past 48 hours. “Go out there and play your game, be aggressive. And whatever happens, happens. But it’s very easy in The Finals, especially, to get caught up in all of that, when the reality is what’s important is to just move on to the next game and lock in and do your best.”
Lue just hopes the routine of the last two games — when LeBron James dominated and the Cavaliers’ won — continues one more day.
“I just think we’re ready and prepared,” Lue said. “I thought the last two games guys were really locked into what we’re trying to do defensively and offensively and executing at a high level. So Game 7 won’t be any different. We have to continue to do the same thing tonight, and they’re ready for this moment.”