Golden State Warriors (-4.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers (194 o/u)
A week ago, Cleveland fans poured into the streets to celebrate a massive 96-91 Game 3 win at home over the heavily favored Warriors, putting them within two wins of the city’s first title since 1964. Fast forward a week and the post-game for Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena (9:00 PM Eastern) should be a much more somber affair
While the Cavaliers are only down 3-2 in the series, over the last two games, Golden State has looked every bit the team that was heavily favored heading into this series. Cleveland will need to find some magic on home-court – where they are 38-12 this year – if they have any hopes of sending the series back to Oakland one last time.
Understandably, some fans and media-types have grown weary of all the ink that has already been spilled over Lebron James in the Finals. But the King is deserving of every word. James had another triple-double in Game 5, finishing with 40 points, 14 boards, and 11 assists. James either scored or assisted on 26 of Cleveland’s 32 field goals, a simply unheard of level of dependence on one player.
But it’s not Cleveland’s dependence on James that has been the team’s downfall, it’s the fact that the Warriors have seemingly solved the Cavs once stifling D, and Cleveland doesn’t have the horses to adjust. The Warriors went small in Game 5, sitting big-men Andrew Bogut and David Lee for most of the game, instead opting for the 6’7 Draymond Green at center.
The move paid dividends as Cleveland was forced to staple its own big-man, Timofey Mozgov, to the bench for most of the night, even though he torched Golden State for 28 points in Game 4. Instead, Mike Miller saw his first real action of the series, playing 13 minutes and making one three-pointer. It was certainly a fun moment for Miller, but things aren’t good for the Cavs if he has suddenly become the most viable option.
Steph Curry led the way for the Warriors in Game 5 with a monster 37-point game on 7/13 shooting from beyond the arc. Four other Warriors finished in double digits (Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Leandro Barbosa) as the team went over 100 points for the third time this series (all in winning efforts).
Cleveland, meanwhile, has only hit the triple-digit barrier once this series – in the Game 1 overtime loss.
While there is no doubt James can (and probably will) muster up another huge performance with his season on the line, the Cavaliers defense will need to step up if this team is going to have any chance.
Matthew Dellavedova, who was praised for his tenacious D on Curry earlier in the series, got schooled by the MVP for the second game in a row; his frustration showed when he got tangled up with Green under the net and the two were assessed double fouls.
Tonight should be the final nail in an otherwise unbelievable season for Cleveland. The Warriors have managed to pull away late in the last two wins thanks to having a fresher lineup. They should be able to close out their first championship since 1975 by more than the 4.5 points they’re currently laying.
Pick: Warriors (-4.5)
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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