The rumors continue to swirl about the Warriors and Magictalking about a deal that would send Monta Ellis to Orlando. According toseveral outlets, the Magic would like to acquire Ellis and pair him with DwightHoward.But several sources continue to maintain that the Warriorswill not trade Ellis, their leading scorer, in a deal with the Magic thatdoesnt include Howard.While the Warriors are willing to listen to potential dealsfor Ellis or third-year guard Stephen Curry, one source said it is unlikelythat anything of significance will happen before Thursdays tradedeadline.There are two reasons for that. First, the Warriors dontwant to part with either of their cornerstone guards unless they get at least alegitimate player in return. In other words, the Warriors arent ready to takea step back at this point.Reason No. 2 has to do with Reason No. 1. The Warriors stillbelieve they have a chance to make the playoffs and are not about to make adeal that would jeopardize that.Not after owner Joe Lacob and coach Mark Jackson promisedthis was a playoff team.The Warriors remain interested in Bucks center Andrew Bogut,but it is unknown whether the pieces are there for a deal. It is also unknown whether the Warriors would be willing to part with Ellis -- as part of a bigger trade -- in a deal for Bogut.
This may not sit well with many Warrior fans and their concept of manifest destiny, but the NBA Finals has to go seven games.
Not “could,” or “should,” but “must.” In other words, it should scare the hell out of every basketball fan interested enough to care.
Sure, the joy of wearing a $35 T-shirt that says “Fo, Fo, Fo, Fo” (hat/tip to the estate of Moses Malone) is its own reward. And yes, being to lord your favorite team’s superiority in a convincing victory will make you the smug, obnoxious fan you’ve always wanted to be. And unquestionably not having to take a second trip to Cleveland or a third trip to Oakland is easy on the body as well as the budget.
But the hell with all that. A seventh game is the one true thing that makes being a human being worthwhile, and better still, a seventh game that ends in overtime elevates us all as a species. Even Ottawa Senators fans who watched their team miss out on a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Final in two overtimes Thursday night feel like they got their money’s worth.
And you can’t get a better deal than that.
For the record, this is not a prediction, nor is it attached to a preference for one team over another. I am rooting neither for Warriors nor Cavaliers. I’m rooting for volume. If this is the series everybody thinks it ought to be, then there ought to be so much of it that everyone should feel like they just binge-Thanksgivinged.
Only 19 Finals have gone to a seventh game, and only five in the last 30 years. But given how much discussion has been generated over the last one, in 2016, why would this series not benefit from a reprise?
Besides, until Game 7 a year ago, the series was wildly disjointed and even nonsensical; the margins of victory were 15, 33, 30, 11, 15 and 14. The 2015 series, which the Warriors won in six games, was at least more fascinating game to game (margins of 8, 2, 5, 21, 13 and 8), but the lingering memory and defining nature of those 13 games is Game 7. A weird series turned into an excellent one because Game 7 cures all other evils – a broken date, a broken heart, a broken femur, a broken computer just as you’re ready to hit “send.” All of it.
So that’s what this needs – especially after all the time the two fan bases have been asked to watch their teams sit idle because of the lack of games. Twenty-one total days between series for each team has worn even the most tortured narratives thin, and the only way the league can make it up to them is to provide a seventh game.
And when we say “provide,” we mean it in that totally-above-board, non-game-fixing way.
So should the Warriors hammer the Cavs with their superior firepower and depth and defense, while it may satisfy you, it will only serve to mark a disappointing end to what has been a disappointing postseason. And should the Cavs do the same with their superior James and Irving and Thompson, the reaction will be the same. The winners get a parade and a ring, and everyone else feels slightly jobbed.
So let the drama begin, and let it linger. You haven’t got anything better to do anyway. The Bay Area baseball teams are struggling as a daily work condition, the Indians have the second worst home record in baseball, the Browns and 49ers are horrific and the Raiders are looking to leave. Plus, we’ve got the Kings.
So with all due acknowledgement to whatever your petty needs might be, this must go seven games. In fact, it should be like the 1957 Finals between Boston and St. Louis, in which the Celtics beat the Hawks, 125-123 in double overtime for their first championship in what became North America’s most enduring sports dynasty.
After all, most games we call “epic” aren’t, but if this new rivalry is to be the equal of all those others, the way is clear, and it won’t be done by in-game pundits or off-day analytics. It will be done in Oakland June 18 – after midnight on the East Coast, just make sure everyone across the land is pot-committed to the game.
Anything short of that will feel like a bit ordering a steak and getting a sandwich. You get to eat. You just won’t remember it as readily.
On Thursday night, the Cavs beat the Celtics 135-102 to punch a ticket to their third straight NBA Finals.
LeBron James racked up 35 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals in 35 minutes.
After the win, he was asked about the challenge of facing the Warriors.
"I'm gonna be honest -- I'm not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State," LeBron told reporters. "It's too stressful and I'm not stressed right now. I'm very happy about our accomplishment ... they've been the best team in our league the last three years and then they added an MVP.
"That's all I can get you right now because I'm happy and I don't want to be stressed."
On Christmas Day, the Cavs erased a 14-point fourth quarter deficit and Kyrie Irving hit the game-winner with 3.4 seconds remaining.
On MLK Day, Golden State jumped on the Cavs early -- leading 37-22 at the end of the first quarter and 78-49 at the half -- en route to a 126-91 victory.
For the first time in NBA history, the same two teams are facing off in the Finals for the third straight year.
Cleveland boasts a postsesaon record of 12-1.
Golden State is the only team ever to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.
"They cause a lot of stress," LeBron added. "And I'll get to that point when we start to prepare for them."
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller