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Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers Enter NBA Finals Game 7


Those Cleveland fans are waiting for their parade. But will they get it? Let's ask Mike Pesca. He is host of "The Gist" on Slate. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Good morning. I mean, parade logistics are beyond my ken. I don't know. And of course, you got to predict if they win or lose. That's a thing in itself.

MARTIN: Oh, yeah, that. OK. So we're going to talk about that. But first, I have to take a moment to acknowledge that you are the father of two amazing young boys. And it's your day. It's Father's Day. And you're talking to us. So thank you for taking time.

PESCA: Thank you for saying that.

MARTIN: So you going to watch the game with them later?

PESCA: It - the game tends to go long, but I have no problem ruining them for school tomorrow. So, yeah, why not?

MARTIN: Perfect. OK, to the task at hand - no team has ever come back 3-1 to win the series. Can Cleveland do it?

PESCA: You know, if you didn't know that much about basketball or the NBA, but you just knew maybe one thing about the Cavaliers, you'd say, well, I guess it all depends on LeBron James. And here I am to say it pretty much depends on LeBron James. But he has been so amazing. He leads both teams in points, assists, steals, blocks and is tied with his teammate Tristan Thompson in rebounds.

On the Warriors side, Steph Curry is a great player. But, you know, he averaged 30 points a game, 30-and-a-half points a game in the regular season and is averaging, I should say, only 25. But that little difference or...


PESCA: The difference Steph having a great game and Steph having a game that he has been having, which sometimes is only good - that could be the difference in this series.

MARTIN: OK. Side question, perhaps, but I don't understand how the team with the biggest star in basketball, the Cavs, came to be the underdog in this contest. This is crazy.

PESCA: I think we, of course, take LeBron James for granted. That's why I didn't get an MVP vote. But I should also say he's playing better in this series than maybe we've ever seen him play and pretty much better than we've seen anyone play, Jordan-esque (ph). I mean, he's put back to back 40-point games. And when he has his - such complete game, but when his jump shot is dropping - and I don't know why it does - the basketball gods either bless him or don't. When his jump shot is dropping, he is unstoppable.

And that's why, for a 10-minute stretch, the end of the third, start of the fourth in Game 6, he was responsible with scoring or assisting on 35 of 36 straight points. And all he would do is score whatever he wanted to. Or when the entire team collapsed around him, he'd lob it to Tristan Thompson who would get a dunk. It was this unstoppable, unbelievable thing. Now we use - unstoppable is the word we used to use for the Warriors offense.


PESCA: And when I say used to, I mean in Games 1 and 2 in this series.


PESCA: So yeah, this is compelling. You know, the teams have scored the same number of points in the series. And yet, there's been no game within 10.


PESCA: So it's fascinating.

MARTIN: All right. So we'll end on the big question - it's a big game. It's Game 7. That's always exciting. But this is bigger, right? Like - put this in context for us. How big is this game?

PESCA: You know, Rachel, obviously everything you talk on the show - the election, terrorism - it's all bigger. And this sport. And this is a game. But it's also a subculture. And the consequences of tonight will define this team, the Warriors, will define the player LeBron James. It's so meaningful to all of northeast Ohio. It's just this amazing opportunity. I'm more compelled by tonight's game than I have been for a game in 20 years.

MARTIN: Wow. There you have it. Mike Pesca of "The Gist" on Slate. Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.

MARTIN: And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.