NBA Finals Game 5 Preview
IS THIS THE NIGHT GOLDEN STATE PULLS DOWN THE CURTAIN ON THE '16-'17 SEASON?
Make no mistake about it: The two full days off between last Friday night's Game 4 and tonight's Game 5 tilt in Oakland may have been good for the down-three-games-to-one Cleveland Cavaliers - those four starters that played 34-or-more minutes in the Game 4 victory got in some serious R&R - but it also allowed the Golden State Warriors ample time to digest (swallow?) everything the mass media threw their way.
Such as ...Why wasn't there a greater sense of urgency for the Warriors to go an historic 16-0 SU (straight-up) in the playoffs when nobody's ever done it before?
And how, exactly, could this Golden State defense allow a whopping 49 points in the first quarter of Game 4 ... just what happened to that oft-hyped "Dub Nation" defense?
All the game analysts have been weighing in and the conventional wisdom says that Golden State will come out of the gates fired up for tonight's tip in the Bay Area following last Friday's 137-116 Cleveland romp and most folks believe the Cavs had better "hold their own" in the game's first 10 minutes-or-so or this could be blowout central for the Warriors (see Game 1 home wins by 22 and 19 points).
NBA FINALS - Game 5 Preview
CLEVELAND at GOLDEN STATE - Warriors lead series 3-1; 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Let's skip this whole narrative that the Cavaliers were here "before" as in down three games to one last year before that stirring/historical comeback to win in seven games:
In this here-and-now situation, Kevin Durant (35 points in Game 4) first off changes the whole damn equation now that he wears the blue and gold plus remember that G-State was all cocky following a Game 4 win in Cleveland a year ago.
Now, Steve Kerr's club comes off that savage beating the other night and better believe the Warriors' sideline boss-man had some choice words for his club that surrendered an NBA Finals-record 24 trifectas.
So, first order of business for the 8.5-point favored Warriors is get out to the perimeter and challenge LeBron James/Kyrie Irving/Kevin Love/J.R. Smith (they combined to go 21-of-37 from downtown in Game 4) and make this a lightning-speed game with Golden State looking to put up shots in the first 8-to-10 seconds of its possessions. P.S., there won't be any shot clock violations on Golden State here unless there's one or two at the very end of the game.
One other order of business for the Warriors:
Substitute liberally in the first half and look for Cleveland to tire down the stretch - it's been a well-worn strategy for the Warriors this series and the real challenge for Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue is when exactly will he get James and/or Irving (the latter scored 40 points in 40 minutes in Game 4) some rest? You might have noticed the other night that Lue subbed out James for a brief moment and the Warriors went on a 7-0 scoring spree. Does "The King" have to play close to 48 minutes here? Does Irving need to play in the 44-to-46 minutes range? Hmm.