G&G’s Aaron Gillette and Peter Gumas offer their reactions to Game 5 of the NBA Finals and look ahead to Game 6 set for Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Reaction to Game 5:
Gillette: LeBron was incredible, but you just can’t beat the Warriors when they get hot. A close game through most of the 4th quarter ended looking like a blow out. The Warriors pulled away when Iguodala hit some big time shots and Steph Curry went unconscious, knocking down 3’s no matter who was in his way or how far he was from the basket.
Gumas: Great battle all night, Golden State just had a little more in their tank late in the game. LeBron was great, especially in the 4th, but the wide array of shooters for Golden State is too much for one man to counter. Gut still tells me we are going 7.
Best Player from Game 5:
Gillette: LeBron. Not that there was any doubt, but he’s reasserted himself as the best player on the planet. In hisbad game this series he still put up 20, 12 and 8. But in the last 5 minutes the best player was Steph, getting a clutch offensive rebound, draining 3’s, and making defenders look foolish. My MVP of this series is still Iguodala though.
Gumas: Definitely LeBron, but I’ll go with Steph Curry for the sake of arguing. It wasn’t just his quantity (37 points), but it was the quality. He simply hit them when it mattered with 17 coming in the 4th quarter. Any time Cleveland made it interesting in the 4th, Curry buried a 3, including the dagger to put them up 11.
Biggest Surprise from Game 5:
Gillette: JR Smith. He looked like he was ready to set the world on fire in the first quarter, but then couldn’t buy a basket. I’m still waiting for him to take over a (whole) game like he did in Game 1 against Atlanta, but I think that ship has sailed.
Gumas: The referees. I thought they were pretty terrible all night. Seemed as if they called the game way too tight. I should say it seemed at least equally terrible and not favored one way or the other, although LeBron seemed to get mugged quite a few times. Seemed like the game dragged on at times due to excessive ticky-tack calls.
How the Cavs Should Feel:
Gillette: Like they have nothing to lose. They’ve battled for 5 games now, and other than Game 4 have had a legitimate chance to win each game. No one will blame them for losing this series with the injuries they’ve suffered, and after a maximum of 2 more games they’ll have months to recover for the 2015-2016 season. Teams without LeBron James have come from behind before, why can’t they with a man playing unbelievable basketball?
Gumas: Dangerous. Very few things in sports are more dangerous than when you back a team into a corner, especially in a championship series. I fully expect a 200% effort from them in game 6 in front of their home crowd (of which I will be in attendance). Especially pumped to see up close and personal what LeBron will do, he’s been going for 40 when his back wasn’t against the wall.
How the Warriors Should Feel:
Gillette: Hungry. They should be chomping at the bit to get this thing over ASAP. LeBron has been incredible, and they showed us at the end of Game 5 what they can do when they’re clicking. They know the Cavs won’t go quietly, but they’re finally playing their basketball and have the blueprint to wrap up this series.
Gumas: Pressured. You don’t want this to go 7. If you recall, these Warriors pretty much packed it in in game 4 of the Western Conference finals because they knew they were going home at least 1 more time. Can’t have that same mentality going into this game. Completely different when you are going for the trophy, but they need to play like they are down 3-2 and not up 3-2.
Game 6 Adjustments:
Gillette: Pretty obvious thing to say here, but for Cleveland it’s just to make shots. It looked like JR was finally going to have a big game, but after a hot start he fell off the face of the earth and ended up 5-15 and 4-14 from 3. Dellavedova was heaving up bricks left and right. The game plan has been fine and kept them in this series, it’s just execution. For Golden State, keep forcing LeBron into long jumpers and off-balance shots, and continue to force the aforementioned Cavalier players into shooting the ball until they prove they can beat you.
Gumas: The Cavs countered the Warriors small lineup with a small lineup of their own. That should tell you something right there, you never want to be the team adjusting, make your opponent adjust to you. I try to go back to the big lineup with Mozgov (only 9 minutes played tonight) and Thompson just a little more than they did tonight. Seemed like Golden State was getting big rebound after big rebound (won that battle 43-37). Going into the series we knew Cleveland had an advantage in the frontcourt, however when you bench half your frontcourt, you make a strength a weakness. As for Golden State, keep throwing multiple looks at LeBron. Seemed like the didn’t double him as much as they did in game 4, but won the game nevertheless. All they really need to do is play their game and they will be world champs.