The Cleveland Cavaliers welcome the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans.
Warriors @ Cavaliers starts at 11.00am AEST on Friday. Watch and bet on the NBA PlayOffs live at bet365, CrownBet or William Hill.
The Cleveland Cavaliers did the unthinkable in Game 5 and they are now looking forward to tying their NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 41 points apiece to lead the Eastern Conference champions to a 112-97 win at the Oracle Arena on Monday and force a Game 6 back in Cleveland. It was the first time that two players scored at least 40 points apiece in an NBA Finals game.
"We had a mindset that we wanted to come here and just extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day," said James, who also had 16 rebounds and seven assists. "That was our main concern, and we were able to do that."
Cleveland center Tristan Thompson grabbed 15 rebounds as he had a field day underneath the basket in the absence of Draymond Green, who was suspended in Game 5 due to flagrant foul accumulation. Golden State's do-it-all forward is averaging 15 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks in the series and is among the leading contenders in the Finals MVP race. Green is expected to return in Game 6.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and last season's Finals MVP Andre Iguodala carried the Warriors in Game 5 but their efforts were not enough. Thompson finished with 37 points while Curry had 25 but the two-time reigning league MVP shot just 8-of-21 from the field. Iguodala had 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as he started for Green.
Despite the loss, Curry is confident that they can clinch the series in Cleveland just like they did last season.
"We like our chances going forward and continuing to just try to be us, the best we can, and get one more win," Curry said.
The Warriors, however, will be without Andrew Bogut for the remainder of the series after the Australian center sustained a knee injury in the third quarter of Game 5. Festus Ezeli is expected to start in his place or head coach Steve Kerr could go small and move Green in the middle and Iguodala to the power forward spot.
No team has ever come back from 3-1 down to win the NBA Finals but the Cavs mustn’t have got the memo. LeBron and Kyrie made history in Game 5 when they became the only team-mates in the history of the NBA Finals to both score more than 40 points.
The suspension of Draymond Green was telling as the Cavs posted 112 points on 53% shooting from the floor. LeBron was outstanding but it was Kyrie who stole the show. He was 17-24 from the floor en route to scoring 41 points and simply could not miss. Pull up jumpers, circus shots, drives to the rim – everything was falling. On the back of that LeBron and Thompson were monsters on the boards combining for 41 including 7 on the offensive end.
Klay put up 37 but the majority of those came in the first half. Curry added 25 but it was the Warriors bench which failed to step up this time. They added just 15 points and shot a miserable 5 of 20.
All in all we must not get caught up in the 82 points that LeBron and Kyrie combined for. That will not be happening again this series whether we go 6 or 7 games. The return of Draymond Green, the Warriors most important defender, will completely change the complexion of the game. Also, we must not forget that Cleveland had just 15 assists in Game 5. Their lack of ball movement has cost them dearly in their losses this series. Just so you can get an idea:
Game 1: 17 assists, lost by 15
Game 2: 15 assists, lost by 33
Game 4: 15 assists, lost by 11
One thing is for certain – LeBron and Kyrie have separated themselves from Kevin Love and this will become more of a Durant/Westbook duo. As the series has gone on the two have them have continued to take on more responsibility and we can’t see that taking a backward step.
Back home the Cavs will continue to rally but don’t forget the Warriors remarkable bounce back record. They are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 following a double digit loss at home and 27-11 in their last 38 following a ATS loss. Despite losing the last encounter they are still 6-2 ATS in their last 8 against the Cavs and we saw what they did as outsiders in Game 4. They won in 6 games last season and will go for the repeat on the back of an angry return from Draymond Green.