CLEVELAND - The Golden State Warriors are looking to do what they did one year ago in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in the same venue - win the NBA championship in Cleveland.
They failed to do so three days ago on their home court in Oakland, California, in Game 5, and will have a second chance to close out the series.
However, the Cleveland Cavaliers and their rabid fans here in what has now come to be known as "The Land"will have none of it. More than 20,000 of them are poised to cheer their team to victory - outside Quicken Loans Arena.
Another sell-out crowd of 20,000, joined by such celebrities as Beyonce and her husband Jay Z and actor Jamie Foxx, filled the stands ion hopes that their team can do what only two of 32 teams in the history of the NBA - win Game 6 after falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Doing so would give the Cavaliers a chance to do what no professional Cleveland sports team in history has done in more than half-a -century - win a championship in what they hope will be a Game 7 in Oakland.
The moment was not lost on Cleveland Coach Tyronn Lue,
"We know it's a very special time and trying to bring a championship home," he said in pregame remarks. "So today, I don't know if it marks the same day - was that Game 6 last year also? Yeah, when they had a chance to celebrate in our locker room, and that left a bitter taste in our mouth.
"So we've got to come out tonight and be very prepared and ready to fight and play like we've been playing in Games 3 and 5."
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, meanwhile, talked of what his team would need to do to win on Cleveland's court, where the cheers of the home team fans reach ear-splitting levels.
"Just be rock solid. Defend like we know we can with a purpose, with physicality," he said. "Offensively, take care of the ball, be sharp with your cuts, your passes, shoot with
confidence, and that's it. It's nothing more than that."