We are all even at two games apiece, but Game Four felt like a bigger momentum swing that just simply evening up the series; it felt like the game where the spunky Cavaliers, running on grit and determination, finally awoke to the harsh reality. The Warriors are a much better team.
So was it the start of the end? The inevitable regression to the mean for role players like fan-fave Delly? The emergence of the best bench in the NBA over a long, tiring series (I mean, how many teams can stockpile David Lee and not even play him? Iguodala, Lee, Livingston, Barbosa and Speights probably make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference) Or can the King summon up one more mighty road effort, both personally and from his loyal subjects?
Let’s dive into tonight’s pivotal Game Five.
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Today’s Free Pick – NBA FINALS GAME FIVE:
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors -8.5 (Total: 195.5)
It’s easy to play the ‘momentum” card tonight. Golden State appeared to make the necessary adjustment in Game Four – pushing tempo and running the tired Cavaliers gas tanks to empty early in the second half. Delly shot 3 of 14, LeBron was 7 of 22 and J.R. Smith might have forgotten to dress out for the game. No one, aside from Mozgov, had a plus-game, and result was predictable.
But I’m not ready to bury the Cavs quite yet. I’ve been on Golden State from the beginning, and I still think they’ll win the series, but it isn’t going to be easy. Yes, Game Four was the Golden State team we saw throughout the entire season; explosive, quick, efficient and lethal shooting the basketball. But it ISN’T the Golden State team we saw in the first three games of the series.
Credit is going to Steve Kerr and his coaching staff, as well as Barnes and Iguodala – all deserved. But the biggest factor might have actually been that the Cavs, who are playing shorthanded, finally ran out of gas. It was their third game in five days and they just didn’t have the bounce in the step. LeBron was inefficient and a little passive. Dellavedova LOOKED like a guy who just came from the hospital, and their shooters gave them nothing. It all starts with the tone and aggression of James. It wasn’t there Thursday. I imagine it will be tonight.
I’m not picking Cleveland on the road to win or on the money line. But we’ve seen them compete for 14 of the 16 periods in this series. I think they will compete once again tonight and get a MUCH better game from the best player on the planet. I’m looking forward to a game five thriller tonight in Oakland.