NBA Championship Finals: Cleveland vs. Golden State – Game Five

&MaxW=640&imageVersion=default&AR-150619725This is the game that can make or break a team. Usually the winner of Game 5 has the biggest advantage when coming out of a series tied 2-2.

The Golden State Warriors, in Game 4 were finally able to take their offence to next level and dominate in a 2015 NBA Finals’ game. This series overall has been a defensive grind, and to some commentators a bore. The Cleveland Cavaliers like to slow things down and take the finesse and fluidity out of Golden State’s attack. Game 4, a resounding 103-82 Warriors victory, saw a partial return of the give-and-go free-flowing Warriors game. The top seeded team countered punched with an offensive adjustment that allowed them to regain some control for this championship showdown.

The league MVP, Stephen Curry and these Golden State Warriors finally showed why they are so deep and so deadly, and why they were the league’s best team all season long.

Curry and Andre Iguodala scored 22 points apiece and the Warriors while Draymond Green delivered a Finals-high 17 points. For the Cavs, Timofey Mozgov scored a playoff-high 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, adding in 10 rebounds. Guard Matthew Dellavedova had 10. LeBron James streamed in 20 points but was 7-of-22 shooting in 41 minutes.

“Offensively we were terrible,” James said, pointing out that the Cavs were 4 of 27 on 3-pointers. “Sometimes your offence just doesn’t show up.”

The Warriors’ small, but quick lineup held the Cavs to 33 percent from the field and 82 points, the Cavaliers’ lowest this postseason.

“We had to win this game.” – Stephen Curry

Game 5 is tonight, Sunday, to be held at Oakland’s rowdy Oracle Arena, where the teams had split two overtime games already. This game had a sense of desperation to it for the Warriors, as none of the 32 teams which have fallen behind 3-1 in the finals have ever won the title.

“Tonight we came in with the mentality that we had to win this game,” said Curry postgame to the press. And they did it in a way that only guys from California can play it cool after cutting it so close.

“We played desperate out there, man,” Klay Thompson said. “We played real hungry. It was just awesome to come out here and impose our will on both sides of the ball and play our brand of basketball. That’s what’s been winning us games all year.”

But the Cavs were not at full strength. They were missing All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, so really the Cavs didn’t have much firepower. Their legs seemed heavy in the fourth quarter, the toll they’d pay for playing three games in five days against a team whose offence comes in waves. Overall, by the end of the match, Cleveland looked tired and played that way, just one step behind the Warriors. But don’t count them out yet.

“We’re in a three-game series for the NBA Finals,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “Six months ago I would have bought that. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, go back to work, play the best basketball we can and try to win this thing.”

Golden State’s Draymond Green, who added 17 points reminded media that they didn’t lose three straight games all season while adding up 67 wins. But after losing Game 3, the Warriors promised to put in application the lesson they learned from rallying back from a 2-1 deficit against Memphis in the Western Conference semifinals.

“It’s just a street fight,” Green said. “Nobody’s doing anything dirty, but they’re battling and we’re battling and that’s why this series is so exciting.”

He’s right, this series really is exciting, and tonight should be the most hard fought and most exciting game yet. Overall Golden State’s ball movement was better in the last game, the shots that wouldn’t sink in the first three games, did in Game 4. And because of that the Warriors are headed home feeling much better about things and feeling more like themselves — the team to beat.

Our Pick: Warriors over Cleveland in OT