Monday, June 15, 2015

Game 5 - Small Ball Comes Up Big

Golden State got off to the quick start for a change. Andre Iguodala came up huge, despite having the reverse effect on the Warriors' average height. Cleveland came back to tie the game by the end of the first thanks to LeBron James's brilliance. The undermanned Cavs kept it close throughout the first half. J.R. Smith finally shot the ball well and scored 14 points.

With the Cavs able to take the last shot of the first half and potentially extend their lead, James failed to cross halfcourt in the requisite eight seconds. Instead of the Cavs at least going into halftime up one- and possibly up four- Golden State had a one point lead and Cleveland walked into the locker room scratching their heads.

Both teams played their centers for a grand total of 12 minutes- Timofey Mozgov played 9 minutes and the Warriors' Festus Ezeli got in for three minutes. Cleveland's Tristan Thompson, at 6'9", was the tallest player to see major minutes. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Warriors truly went small with Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston used as the primary substitutes.

Cleveland kept it close. James Jones, playing at center at times, took two charges under the basket. The Cavs trailed by six at the end of three. With time dwindling in the fourth, Cleveland began to intentionally foul Iguodala. Igoudala finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, but he missed nine consecutive free throws at one point. He only made his first and last attempts. It allowed the Cavs some home.

Cleveland's real source of hope centered around LeBron. By the end, James had another incredible performance. He scored 40 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. But the Warriors are a far more balanced team. In addition to Iguodala, Barbosa had his best game of the series with 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Draymond Green Contributed 18 points and 9 rebounds. Harrison Barnes had 10 rebounds and a thunderous dunk. Klay Thompson, the All Star guard who has struggled to shoot and has not stopped LeBron when he's been asked to guard him, added 12.

The true hero for Golden State was the MVP, Stephen Curry. His 37 points- including a step back three late in the fourth that effectively sealed the outcome- helped the Warriors take 3-2 series lead with a 104-91 win. The game was closer than the score.

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