Tip-off: Monday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Golden State -8.0, Total: 206.0
The Warriors will be going for their second straight NBA championship when they host the Cavaliers in Game 5 on Monday.
The Warriors looked miserable in Game 3, but they were able to bounce back with a 108-97 victory as 2.5-point road underdogs on Friday night. Golden State shot just 40.7% from the floor in the game, but the team did connect on 17 threes. It was the first time in NBA Finals history that a team won by making more threes than it did twos. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, shot 46.9% from the floor in the game. They will, however, need to do a lot better defensively in Game 5. They can’t afford to let the Warriors get free for any open threes or they just might be watching Golden State’s trophy presentation after the game.
One trend that favors the Cavaliers in this game is that they are 19-9 ATS when playing only their second game in five days this season. The Warriors, meanwhile, are 10-2 ATS in home playoff games this season. They’ll certainly be extra motivated to win it on their home floor in this one as well.
PF Draymond Green (Possible Suspension) is a major question mark heading into this game. He could be suspended after an altercation with LeBron James in Game 4 and his absence would be huge for both teams.
The Cavaliers are facing elimination and they’re really going to need SF LeBron James (24.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG in playoffs) to play aggressively in Game 5. James had 25 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, three blocks and two steals in Game 4, but he also turned the ball over seven times. He tends to disappear for large portions of the game at times and that needs to stop. James does a lot to impact the game and make his teammates play better, but the Cavaliers are going to need him to have a scorer’s mentality on Monday. He scored 32 points in the only game the Cavaliers won in this series, so he just might need to score 30 or more in this one as well.
PG Kyrie Irving (24.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) has been one player that has showed up for Cleveland in this series. He’s averaging 32.0 PPG and 6.0 APG over the past two contests and will need to continue to perform at a high level offensively. There is, however, some room for him to improve defensively.
The x-factor in Game 5 might just be PF Tristan Thompson (6.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG in playoffs) though. Thompson has been a monster on the glass and will need to continue to be the rest of this series. He did, however, go a miserable 0-for-5 from the line in Game 4 and if he can’t make free throws then he won’t be able to stay on the floor for his team.
The Warriors seemed like they might be in trouble, as they faced quite a few deficits in Game 4. They did, however, rally back on multiple occasions and they were able to come away with a 108-97 victory.
The biggest difference for Golden State in this game was that PG Stephen Curry (25.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) and SG Klay Thompson (24.1 PPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs) finally showed up in this one. The “splash brothers” combined to score 63 points in the game, connecting on a total of 11 threes. 38 of the points came from Curry and he desperately needed to perform at a high level, as he was averaging just 16.0 PPG in the first three games of this series. If he and Thompson can get it going from the outside in Game 5 then the Warriors should be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy on Monday night.
The status of PF Draymond Green (15.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) will be crucial in determining the outcome of this one. Green could be facing a suspension for a cheap shot to LeBron James in Game 4 and his loss would be huge in this game. He has done a great job on both ends of the floor and is the emotional leader of this Warriors team. One last guy that must be mentioned is SF Andre Iguodala (9.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.2 SPG in playoffs). Iguodala was the Finals MVP in 2015 and just might be winning his second in a row if he plays well in a Warriors win on Monday. He has played lockdown defense all series long and will need to continue to frustrate LeBron James moving forward.