The NBA Finals battle featuring the Cavs vs. Warriors swung in favor of Cleveland this time. What started as a sort of step-over taunt of NBA all-star and bad boy Draymond Green ended up exposing a weakness in the Warriors’ plans for a championship. Cleveland took full advantage of the more open basketball floor to punish the Warriors further, with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James ending the night with 41 points each out of their team’s total 112 points.
Draymond Green’s suspension changed the fate of the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals’ Game 5. His knee-jerk reaction to the LeBron James walk-over during Monday night’s game rejuvenated the Cavs. The Splash Brothers played well, and no one on Golden State made huge errors, but the ominously absent defensive presence let the Cavs hit shots and slip to the basket in superior form. The key to the Cavs’ Finals success might just be figuring out a way to get the best defensive player on the court ejected.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 14, 2016
Game 6 is on Thursday, June 16, in Cleveland. Draymond Green will return to harass LeBron James wherever he finds himself on the court and create a general nuisance for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The hope for Cavs fans lies in LeBron getting a chance for more free throw attempts on aggressive drives that push the Warriors towards the foul limit or cooking up some other scheme to taunt Green until he does something that impacts the Warriors’ chances again.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson didn’t necessarily play badly or do anything wrong, and the Warriors didn’t play poorly at all until the game slipped away towards the end. The Cavs just had the answer for everything they did. Coach Kerr and Curry will definitely need to make a secondary plan of action on defense if Draymond ever gets too aggressive in situations where they need him in the game.
Other Warriors need to learn how to take on Draymond Green’s defensive intensity so they can use it in his absence. It may mean some more offensive-minded Warriors will need to shift their focus towards protecting the paint and challenging shots and having better movement on the defensive end. They really need more players like Draymond who can stand in for him.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 12, 2016
Although Steph Curry walked away with 25 points, he shot just eight for 21. Curry is the least of Kerr’s troubles, as he knows he can depend on his star to come around when it counts. Kerr told USA Today of his respect for his MVP player.
“Steph is incredibly grounded as a human being. He understands the responsibility that comes with being who he is – the MVP, the guy who gets the commercials. So when things go bad, he’s going to get the blame. And when things go well, he gets the credit. So nobody understands that responsibility more than him”
If the Warriors were going to go into this Finals down a player, it couldn’t be one of their three all-stars. Last year the Warriors beat the Cavs while two of the Cavs stars sat out with injuries. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love didn’t make it through the Finals. This year, Irving is back in a big way, and when he plays well, the team wins.
As ESPN reports, another big defensive presence for the Warriors, Andrew Bogut, sustained a sprained knee in last night’s loss and is questionable for Game 6. The seven-foot Australian provides a huge shot blocking presence. The Warriors need to mind their defensive specialist players more unless they want to worry about just keeping up offensively and matching shots, a difficult task when both Irving and James have shots falling.
Game 6 in the Cavs vs. Warriors series will further prove just how essential Green, Bogut, and defense are to this series.
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]