#NBAFinals: Festus Ezeli Prepares to Start, Cleveland Cavaliers Target Remarkable Comeback

lebron james and steph curry
Lebron James and Steph Curry

Another basketball showdown happens tonight, as the Cleveland Cavaliers will be hoping to overcome the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the best-of-seven game NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers, having gone three games down against one won before game 5, bounced back to claim a vital victory 112-97 to reduce the deficit to 3-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

In the regular season series, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-83 on December 25, 2015 and 132-98 on January 18, 2016 to further indicate their superiority over the Ohio team.

It’s on record that no side has come back from 3-1 down to win the Finals but the Cavaliers will feel they now have the momentum on their home court on Thursday to take it to a decider on Sunday.

Interestingly, the home team will be counting on their superstars such as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who each netted 41 points to become the first teammates to score more than 40 points in the same NBA Finals match, to deliver what would be the vital throws that will ensure a remarkable comeback.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors will return to Cleveland, where they won the 2015 title, in game six and know that a win could all but guarantee them being crowned champions. It will be good news for Warriors coach, Steve Kerr as he welcomes Draymond Green who was suspended for game 5.

Golden State Warriors' Festus Ezeli (31) dunks the ball against the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Golden State Warriors’ Festus Ezeli (31) dunks the ball against the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

The Warriors faces a tough challenge but they will be relying on the services of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and back-up center Festus Ezeli, of Benin City, Nigeria, who has quietly been putting together a solid postseason performance. Andrew Bogut, whom Ezeli serves as a backup for, is out of the rest of the games for the NBA Finals due to a knee injury. The injury happened in a collision with Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith in Game 5.

Ezeli will have to use his size to contain Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov, who stands 7 ft 1 inch and has an average of 10 points and eight rebounds a game this season. In Ezeli’s own words he is ready to come out and play. “What I do know is we won a championship in this building. With that experience, I’m just ready to come out and play another big game, that’s all.”

This will be the defending NBA Champions Golden State Warriors’ second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals and eighth overall. The Warriors broke the record set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls by finishing the regular season with a 73–9 record.

In the playoffs, the Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets in the first round and the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals in 5 games each. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96–88, becoming only the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 3–1 series deficit, and advancing to a second straight NBA Finals for the first time since 1947 and 1948.

On the other hand, this will be Cleveland’s second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and third overall, as they seek to win their first ever NBA championship. This will also be the sixth consecutive NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James, the most for any player not part of the 1960s Boston Celtics, and the fifth for James Jones (who technically qualified for the 2011 NBA Finals along with James, but did not play).

Cleveland finished the regular season with a 57–25 record, capturing the Central Division title and the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. They then advanced to the Finals after sweeping both the Detroit Pistons in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks in the second round, and defeating the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.