Game 5 of the NBA Finals was full of story lines: Draymond Green’s suspension, Kevin Love’s return to the starting line-up, how LeBron would respond to the Golden State’s jabs after game 4, and if Curry, who had struggled the whole series, could emulate his game 4 performance. Game 5 gave us some answers, but it left us with more questions. Like: what happened to Kevin Love? What happened to Curry’s consistency? How much will Andrew Bogut’s injury hurt the Warriors? Will Draymond’s return be enough to close out the series? And lastly, can the Warriors shut down Kyrie and Lebron?
LeBron is great in big games, and we saw that on Monday night. LeBron had one of his best games in recent memory, scoring 41 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, dishing out 7 assists, and complimenting his offensive effort, with 3 steals, and 3 blocks. He was 1st in every one of those categories in game 4, which truly speaks for his all round game. When facing elimination LeBron is at his best. Often criticized for a lack of “clutchness”, the numbers would paint another picture, as show by “ESPN stats & info”.
We can’t talk about game 5 without mentioning Kyrie’s big game, as he put in 41 points of his own, shooting over 70% in the game. LeBron and Kyrie became the first Finals teammates to score 40+ points in the same game. It was a truly miraculous display of talent. While both LeBron and Kyrie have the ability to drop 40 in any given game, the likelihood of it happening again in game 6 is slim to none. The Cav’s will need other players to step up if they want to force a game 7. Yes, I’m talking to you Kevin love and J.R. Smith.
Kevin Love has been terrible in the Finals thus far, only scoring 2 points in game 5, despite his return to the starting line-up. The Cav’s will need to get Love going if they have any hopes of winning this series, because as the Thunder showed us in the WCF, you can’t beat the Warriors with two players. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith haven’t been shooting very well in the Finals so far, as K-Love has shot 4/14, and J.R. Smith has shot 10/27. They will need to get these two going if they hope to win Game 6.
On The Warriors side, a guy they need to get going is Stephen Curry. He’s averaging 22.2 ppg through 5 games, well below his season average of 30.1. He’s also shooting just 43% from the field, and 41% from behind the arch. Curry must up his production if the Warriors hope to close out the series in Cleveland. He was saved by his bench in Game 1, which scored 45 points; and in game 2 it was Draymond Green who saved the day, scoring 28 points. While the Warriors bench is one of the best in the league, and Draymond is a great player, those types of performances don’t come around very often.
Draymond was clearly missed in Game 5. He will return from suspension in Game 6, giving the Warriors more versatility on defense. Draymond’s versatility on offense was clearly missed as well. However, it is one step forward, and one step back for the Warriors, who will be without Andrew Bogut for the remainder of the Finals (left knee injury). Without Bogut the Warriors lose one of their best rebounders, and rim protectors. Don’t be surprised if Tristian Thompson has a ‘hay day’ down low on the glass.
Game 6 should be a good one. The Warriors hold the comfort of a 3-2 lead, and the fact that even if they lose they go back home for Game 7. However, there is no question that they want to close it out now, rather than later. As i said, for the Warriors to do this, they will need a huge offensive performance from Stephen Curry. He will also need to step it up on the defensive end, where he has struggled mightily to contain Kyrie.
I expect another big performance from LeBron, and Kyrie, but the key to a Cleveland victory in Game 6 is Love and Smith. Some bench production would not hurt either.
I picked this series to go to 7 games and I am sticking to that prediction. I’ve got the Cav’s winning Game 6, by 5.