- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Andre Iguodala
- C: Andrew Bogut
The Golden State Warriors head back home to Oracle Arena on Monday night, as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers with a shot at winning their second straight title in game five.
That very well could happen on their home floor, but a fourth win in the 2016 NBA Finals could be hard to come by with power forward Draymond Green missing from the court. Green was handed a one-game suspension after receiving a flagrant foul for his role in an altercation with LeBron James, and barring any last second change, is slated to sit out of game five.
The suspension could give the Dubs extra motivation to put an end to this series right away and rally behind the suspended Green, or it could give the reeling Cavs precisely what they need to keep this series going. A game five win could give the Dubs a repeat championship, or it could put Cleveland in the driver’s seat with game six kicking back to Quicken Loans Arena. We’ll find out which way the wind will blow when game five tips off on Monday night.
Never has a team in such a good spot seemed to be in so much trouble. The Dubs should be ecstatic right now – and hey, maybe they are – as they host game five with a shot to wrap up their second straight NBA title.
Of course, that could prove to be rather difficult without arguably the heart of their team, Draymond Green, sitting this one out. In fact, there are whispers Green won’t even be able to be near the team until after the game.
That could be a serious problem, especially when you look at the fact that the Dubs have enjoyed most of their success with Green in the lineup and running the small ball “death lineup”. To put it more bluntly, the Dubs are +54 when he’s playing center in that lineup and with every other formation, they’ve allowed more points than they’ve scored.
That lineup is so successful for several reasons. Offensively, Green spreads the floor as a five that can hit the outside shot, create offense off the dribble and also attack the rim personally. He’s just as much of a problem on the defensive end, as he is physical enough to bang with guys bigger with him, he rebounds well, he can jump in front of passes, he stays with his man and he blocks shots. Even when he’s not blocking shots, he is redirecting bodies in traffic or discouraging penetration simply with his mere presence.
Needless to say, the Dubs are going to have to find a way to adapt if they want to end the 2016 Finals on their home floor tonight. That is the ideal scenario, after all, as this series going back to Cleveland feels like a guarantee for a game seven more than it doesn’t. Plus, who wouldn’t want to get this over with and wrap up a repeat championship?
Golden State still has a full team capable of making that happen, especially considering they do not lose at home very often and Cleveland has yet to beat them at Oracle Arena in this series.
The Dubs are 0-1 without Green on the year, however, and outside of slowing down LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, they may have to figure out a way to generate extra offense without a key piece to the puzzle. That could mean heavy minutes for the likes of Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes, while head coach Steve Kerr may need to make the right calls at the right time when it comes to the roles of Festus Ezeli, Andrew Bogut, Anderson Varejao, Marreese Speights and James McAdoo.
|6/10/16||at Cavaliers||Win 108-97|
|6/8/16||at Cavaliers||Lost 120-90|
|6/5/16||VS Cavaliers||Win 110-77|
|6/2/16||VS Cavaliers||Win 104-89|
|5/30/16||VS Thunder||Win 98-88|
The Cavs got a huge break ahead of game five with the Draymond Green suspension, which gives them a very realistic shot at beating the Warriors on the road tonight. With a huge road win, they could get their confidence back, head home for game six, defend their turf and force what just days ago seemed like an impossible game seven.
Green being out doesn’t guarantee a thing, however. Golden State is still a team that won 73 games during the regular season and doesn’t take too kindly to defeat on their home floor. They’re also a win away from a ring, so Green or no Green, they’re not going down easily. Neither are the Cavs, though, and this extra edge could be their ticket to an unprecedented Finals comeback.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have actually looked largely the same throughout this series, as they’ve either bested or at least hunt with the Dubs in the first three quarters in almost every game, only to collapse late. Finishing strong has been a major problem for them, and now they face elimination, down 3-1 going back to Oracle Arena.
The good news is LeBron James has played some of his best ball with his back against the wall, putting up over 30 points per game in elimination games. James is sure to come at Golden State with ferocity in this one, especially with Green not waiting for him at the block when he attacks the rim.
James’ effectiveness will likely dictate this game for the Cavs, as Cleveland feeds off of him and when he’s confident, he becomes aggressive and his defense benefits. That would keep him engaged from start to finish and could be exactly what the Warriors don’t need in a huge game five.
|6/10/16||VS Warriors||Lost 108-97|
|6/8/16||VS Warriors||Win 120-90|
|6/5/16||at Warriors||Lost 110-77|
|6/2/16||at Warriors||Lost 104-89|
|5/27/16||at Raptors||Win 113-87|
The overall feeling here is desperation and we saw the results of that when the Cavs stormed out to a huge game three lead at home. That focus and determination waned in a game four home loss, but with no Green and elimination at risk, Cleveland should come out, guns a blazin’.
One way to try to ensure success is sticking with the same lineup the Cavs have had the past two games, with Kevin Love still coming off the bench. Love can still provide an offensive spark, while James at the four helps Cleveland’s overall defense. That being said, Green’s absence may keep the Warriors from running small, which could nullify the big Cleveland lineup change that sparked their game three win. Truth be told, Cleveland’s game plan for game five may simply be adapting to whatever the Warriors do to compensate for Green’s suspension.
Golden State makes their living by going small and running opponents out of the gym, but it’s going to be very tough to envision them executing that without Draymond Green manning the middle. That likely makes them switch things up in game five, which obviously could play right into Cleveland’s hands.
|6/10/16||Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97|
|6/8/16||Cavaliers 120, Warriors 90|
|6/5/16||Warriors 110, Cavaliers 77|
|6/2/16||Warriors 104, Cavaliers 89|
|1/18/16||Warriors 132, Cavaliers 98|
|12/25-15||Warriors 89, Cavaliers 83|
|6/16/15||Warriors 105, Cavaliers 97|
|6/14/15||Warriors 104, Cavaliers 91|
|6/11/15||Warriors 103, Cavaliers 82|
|6/9/15||Cavaliers 96, Warriors 91|
|6/7/15||Cavaliers 95, Warriors 93 (OT)|
|6/4/15||Warriors 108, Cavaliers 100 (OT)|
On the flip side, not being able to go small could also help the Dubs, who have had issues with rebounding throughout the last two series. Staying a little bigger could potentially offset the impact of Tristan Thompson on the offensive boards. Fewer second chance points would hurt Cleveland far more, as Golden State’s defense has been incredibly suffocating on them for most of the first four games.
Cleveland has to be in full attack mode one way or the other, as they need to try to exploit the absence of Green by charging the rim and either finishing aggressively or kicking out to open shooters. The Cavs got absolutely destroyed from deep in game four, and while the Warriors probably won’t knock in a record amount of three’s again, Cleveland certainly cannot afford to lose by such a wide margin from deep.
Of course, that is how the Warriors get by. They play defense, they work for the open shot, share the ball and convert when you least expect it. We saw that breathe new life back into The Splash Brothers, and after not showing up for the first three games, it could be that deadly duo that swoops in to save the Dubs in game five.
We really do like Golden State straight up tonight, as they have to be annoyed by the Draymond Green suspension, they’re at home, they still have The Splash Brothers and they know they have a title within their grasps.
That doesn’t mean this will be an easy win, however. The Cavs – especially with James – are tough outs when facing elimination and the Draymond Green suspension gives them a chance they probably didn’t bank on. That has to level the playing field enough to at least help them beat the spread tonight.
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