– It’s May 31st, 2018. Game one of the NBA
Finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors and Cavs are tied with 4.7 seconds left on the clock and Cleveland’s George Hill
has one remaining free throw. The importance of a
game one win on the road cannot be overstated. And the Cavaliers are in
position to do just that, but the only way to
appreciate this moment, is to explore the ones
that came before it. (mysterious music) After sinking the first
of two free throws, George Hill has a chance to give Cleveland a late lead, a very late lead. And this narrow margin is
exactly what everyone expected because of these two teams
are facing off in the finals for the fourth consecutive year. Something that has never happened in the four major North American Sports. (tape recorder whirring)
Their first match up came in 2015. The Warriors entered as the
number one team in the NBA, thanks in part to lead MVP, Steph Curry and first-year head coach, Steve Kerr, who chose to join Golden State after mulling over the Knicks job. That’s what we call a good decision. (static hissing)
The Cavs came in as the number two seed in the East behind Atlanta. And Atlanta team, they swept in the
Eastern Conference Finals to earn their rightful
place as kings of the East, lead by the king himself, LeBron James. But in the end, the crown was placed at top of the heads of the Warriors. Their first championship in 40 years. The Cavaliers had lost their All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to a knee injury in the
first game of the series and had been without forward Kevin Love since he exited the first round with a shoulder injury. The following year, the two
teams met for a finals rematch. This time, both teams
entered as one seeds, but the Warriors brought a little something extra to the table. They finished the regular season with an NBA record, 73 wins. But this team was tested
on their way to the finals. Despite the best record of all time, despite Steph Curry being
the first unanimous MVP, and despite him being part of the highest scoring duo in the league, alongside Klay Thompson, the Warriors found themselves
down three games to one in the Western Conference Finals against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. But that just gave them the chance to reiterate their
dominance over the league, as they became the 10th team in history to come back from a 3-1 deficit. The Warriors themselves then went up three games to one over the Cavaliers and that’s when the king
by sheer force of will helped the Cavs string
together back to back wins to push the series to game seven. Then while being locked at 89-89, for almost three minutes at
the end of the fourth quarter, Andre Iguodala raced down
the court to break the tie, only to be denied by LeBron with the most beautiful
piece of defensive artwork I have ever seen. – [Announcer] Blocked by James! LeBron James with the rejection! – [Mike] After another
minute locked at 89, Kyrie Irving hit a three with Steph Curry right in his face. – [Announcer] It’s good! Kyrie Irving for downtown! – [Mike] Under a minute left on the clock, God’s definition of clutch shooting. The Warriors never scored another point and the Cleveland Cavaliers
became the first team in NBA Final’s history to come back down three games to one, en route to their first franchise title. (scoreboard buzzing)
– It’s over! It’s over! Cleveland is the city
of champions once again! – It’s like we can make a whole video out of each of those moments, but this is not that video. (soft dance music)
The following year, Kevin Durant joined the
team he almost defeated in the Western Conference Finals. The best team in NBA history gained a former MVP in his prime and everyone thought he was
super cool for doing so. (static hissing)
The Warriors got their revenge on the Cavs, winning the 2017 NBA
Finals four games to one. (static hissing)
But here, one year later, the Cavs are on the precipice
of stealing game one on the Warrior’s home turf. A momentum shift that
would have ramifications echoing throughout the rest of the series. (tape recorder shifting)
At the stripe is Cav’s point guard, George Hill, Kyrie Irving’s replacement. Kyrie asked for a trade shortly after the Cavs lost to the
Warriors in the 2017 finals. He was dealt to Boston in August in exchange for a package
including Isaiah Thomas. But due to Thomas’s injured hip, he didn’t make his Cleveland
debut until January. And his time with the
team was short-lived, as he was traded a month
later to the Lakers. The Cavs then made additional moves at the trade deadline, including a three-way trade
with the Kings and Jazz that netted them Rodney Hood and our guy, George Hill. (static hissing)
Hill was drafted out of IUPUI, Indiana University-Purdue
University Indianapolis. If that doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because he is the only NBA player to come out of that university. (static hissing)
Hill had planned to play for Florida, but ultimately decided
to stay close to home to be near his ill grandfather. (static hissing)
He was drafted in 2008 with one year of college
basketball eligibility left. 10 years later on May 12th, 2018, he graduated from IUPUI and gave a speech to the
rest of the graduating class. Then, the following day on May 13th, he started in game one of
the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. (static hissing)
Now, with game one of the NBA Finals on the line, he’s at the line, sent there by Klay Thompson. (tape recorder whirring)
Thompson, son of former NBA player, Mychal Thompson, was drafted by the Warriors in 2011. In 2012, he replaced fan
favorite, Monta Ellis, as the starting 2-guard and became a new fan favorite and 1/2 of the deadly-shooting duo, known as the Splash Bros. The Curry-Thompson duo
was the main driving force behind the Warrior’s rise to the top of the basketball world and together, they’re responsible for changing the way the game is played with their unprecedented shooting ability from beyond the arc. (tape recorder whirring)
But here in game one with near seconds left on the clock in the fourth, they’re vulnerable. Curry, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant all turn their focus to LeBron. This left Hill free to cut to the basket. In desperation, Klay grabbed him to stop an easy inside pass and layup. It gives Cleveland a chance at the line but it was still a smart
defensive play by Thompson who was almost knocked
out of the game earlier. (static hissing)
With a little over six minutes left in the first quarter, Klay took a huge blow to his knee that left him writhing in pain. It was the same knee he had injured in game four of the
Western Conference Finals and it sucked the wind out
of every fan at Oracle Arena. The body being flung into his leg, well, that’s J. R. Smith, (tape recorder skidding)
the best basketball player to never know what’s going on. (static hissing)
J.R. Smith has a judgment problem. He’s really fun to watch, but generally you prefer him
to be on a different team. (tape recorder whirring)
In 2013, he was part of miraculous blip in New York Knicks basketball history where they participated in the playoffs. It was a Knicks team that relied on him, but in game three of the first
round against the Celtics, he threw an ill-advised elbow into the face of Celtic’s
guard, Jason Terry. This amounted to a game
four suspension for Smith that helped Boston gain
some momentum in the series. Luckily for New York, they weathered it and knocked off the Celtics in six. The following round, the Knicks went down three
games to one against the Pacers. Through those four games, J. R. shot an absolutely dismal 18 for 64, which prompted pop star Rihanna, who he reportedly dated a year prior to post on Instagram
that his poor performance was due to his nightly
clubbing during the playoffs. (static hissing)
He claimed it wasn’t true, but honestly he played so bad, I hope he was hungover. (tape skidding)
In January of 2014, he put his awareness on
display against the Rockets with the shot clock turned off and 21 seconds left on the
game clock in a tie game. J. R., instead of holding
for the final shot, just chucked up a three, showing an absolute lack of awareness of what was going on. – [Announcer] What was he doing? – [Announcer] I don’t
know, he wasn’t thinking. We know that. – He even fess up later, saying, “That’s bad basketball IQ on me.” (static hissing)
Yes sir, it is. (static hissing)
This came in the same month that he received a $50,000 fine for recurring instances of
unsportsmanlike conduct, which actually meant he couldn’t stop untying
his opponent’s shoelaces. (static hissing)
Okay, that one’s pretty funny. (tape whirring)
In 2016, now a member of the Cavs, J. R. appeared to make
up with Jason Terry, who he had been suspended
for elbowing him in the face. The problem is he walked off the court to say hello in the middle of a game, allowing a completely uncontested dunk. (static hissing) (Mike clapping) (tape whirring)
In the closeout game against the Pacers in the 2017 playoffs, J. R. stole the ball with about 10 seconds left on the clock and the Cavs holding
onto a three point lead. He quickly decided to try
a behind-the-back pass instead of just holding the basketball. The Pacers took the ball back, but the Cavs still
managed to close them out (static hissing)
because sometimes you just have to hope to survive the stupid
stuff that J. R. does and sometimes you have to
just stare in amazement. In March of this year, J.R.
was suspended by the Cavs for throwing soup at an assistant coach because that’s just the kind of guy he is. None of this however, should take away from J. R.’s importance on this Cavalier’s team, including being a big part of
the 2016 championship team, but when he goes cold, everyone can see their own breath. In the Eastern Conference Finals, he shot 14 of 54, including 10 for 34 from downtown. But the Cavs survived. In this game one, (static hissing)
he’s had some foolish plays, including these two first-half turnovers. (static hissing)
And his shooting hasn’t improved from the previous series, as he shooting two for nine, but then again, the Cavs are surviving. LeBron just won’t let them fall. Down by six at the start
of the fourth quarter, (foreboding dance music)
LeBron has been unstoppable, dropping 13 in the fourth quarter alone, as he surpassed 40 points for the eighth time in these playoffs. (static hissing)
This three point play put the Cavs up two with under a minute to play. – [Announcer] Count in and won! (static hissing)
– This double clutch again put the Cavs up by two with now only 30 seconds left. (static hissing)
But Curry had an and one of his own. – [Announcer] Count it and won! – [Mike] Down one with 23 seconds left, LeBron and the Cavs took
the ball down the court, ready to steal game one from the Warrior’s clutches. With all eyes on LeBron, George Hill cuts to the basket and is ripped backwards by Clay Thompson. (static hissing)
At the line, Hill hits his first shot, which brings us here.
(static hissing) (heart beating)
A tied game with mere seconds on the clock and the Cavs have a timeout. So, even if Hill misses, they’ll have a chance (tape recorder skidding)
to grab a rebound and call time. Or put up a quick shot for the win. (static hissing)
As these two teams battle in the finals for the
fourth consecutive time, both look for a tone-setting game won win. The Warriors having defeated the Cavs two of the last three
years are the favorite but no team with LeBron James could ever truly be an
underdog in the finals and the king is proving it with his unstoppable
fourth quarter performance. (heart beating)
If the Cavs are able to steal a win on the road to start the series, it could give them the momentum they need to give the city of Cleveland
their second championship. With the game tied at 107, it all hangs in the balance. Welcome to a moment in history. (dramatic drum beats)
– Hill misses. Rebound goes to the Cavs! J. R. Smith brings it back out! Throws it to Hill!
(scoreboard buzzing) (whistle blowing)
Hill’s shot blocked! (audience chatting)
And we’ll go to overtime. You get the feeling J. R. thought they pull off the lead.
– You know, the block. (television popping)