The Golden State Warriors are aiming to finish off the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena.
Cavaliers @ Warriors begins at 11.00am AEST on Tuesday. Watch and bet on the NBA Playoffs live at bet365, CrownBet or William Hill.
The Golden State Warriors are just a win away from retaining their NBA title. And they could get that victory at home when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series after pulling off a 108-97 win at Cleveland last Friday.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson finally made their presence felt after sub-par performances in the first three games of the series. Curry sank seven three-pointers and finished with 38 points while Thompson added 25.
"He's the MVP for a reason. He doesn't have the size and strength to dominate a game physically, so he has to dominate with his skill, and that's not an easy thing to do because your shot sometimes isn't going to go in," said Golden State head coach Steve Kerr of Curry.
The bad news for Golden State fans is Draymond Green has been suspended for Game 5 after league officials upgraded his foul on LeBron James late in Game 4 into a flagrant foul. Green appeared to have hit James on the groin as he stood up after the Cavaliers superstar stepped over him during one sequence. Both were slapped with regular fouls after getting into an altercation.
Green, who is averaging 15 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks in the finals, was suspended due to flagrant fouls accumulation.
His suspension is good news for the Cavaliers, who are in a must-win situation to extend the series. James and Kyie Irving are again expected to lead the Eastern Conference champions after playing well in Game 4. James had a near triple-double performance of 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists while Irving finished with a team-high 34 points.
Despite facing a 1-3 deficit, James remains confident that his team can turn the series around.
"Let's get one," he said. "We've already got to take a flight home anyways, so we might as well come home with a win and play on our home floor again."
Head coach Tyronn Lue expects better contributions from JR Smith and Kevin Love. Smith was held to 10 points in Game 4 after erupting for 20 in their 120-90 demolition of the Warriors in Game 3 while Love scored just 11 after missing out in Game 3 due to concussion.
The Warriors finally got hot from beyond the arc in Game 4 and it was a telling factor as they took a 3-1 lead. As a result they have a chance to close out the NBA Finals in Game 5 and register back to back Championships.
They will however have to do it without Draymond Green who was suspended for one game for a flagrant 1 foul for striking LeBron James in the groin. It came as no surprise with the NBA and public in a desperate cry to extend the Finals. Had it been Game 7 there is NO WAY he would have been suspended. It also opens the door for us to take advantage of what will be very different matchups on the floor.
Golden State will no longer be able to go to their death line up with Green at Centre and they will also lose his ball handling coming up the floor. When Green runs the floor he has multiple open shooters but that will not be the case in Game 5. His absence will allow Cleveland to double team Curry without fear of paying the price down low. The Cavs will be happy to see the ball in the arms of Bogut, Ezeli and Speights for as long as possible.
For all of it’s hard work the Cavs were made for pay for blown defensive assignments in the second half of Game 4 which against the Warriors results in a barrage of three point makes. They had built an 8 point lead at one stage but back to back three’s from the Splash Brother saw it cut to 2 and it was all downhill from that point on.
You have to be completely locked in for 48 minutes as a unit against Golden State and the Cavs were not. After falling behind they then got into a very dangerous pattern in the 4th quarter – one that we saw from the Thunder in the conference finals. The ball movement completely stopped as Kyrie and LeBron took turns at 1 on 5 basketball. It resulted in very few made baskets, no free throw attempts and a stack of turnovers. As good as LeBron’s numbers have been (24.8 points, 11 rebounds and over 8 assists) he is also averaging 6 turnovers!
The big question is whether the league will get what it wants – a 7 game series. The suspension of Green has done nothing but help this but most notably has also made Curry the odds on favourite to now get the Finals MVP – something that looked next to impossible after the opening three games of the series.
Cleveland have played poorly in patches this season and that is a worry heading into Game 5. They are 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 following a double digit loss at home and are now 1-6 ATS in their last NBA Finals games – all against the Warriors. On the flip-side the Warriors are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 at home, a statistic that is very hard to ignore.
Teams that jump out to a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals are 32-0 in league history. The average margin of victory through four games this series has been a whopping 22.3 points. Green or no Green, Game 5 shapes as a dark day for the Cavs and LeBron who looks set to slip to 2-5 in NBA Finals.
In relation to the total we have to be on the Under. The Warriors will not be able to go small in the absence of Green and his absence will also allow for more pressure to be places on Curry and Klay. The Under is 7-1 in Warriors last 8 against Eastern Conference teams and 5-1 in their last 6 at home. There will be no Game 6.