Coming off a historically great performance from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers are heading back home to try and force a decisive game seven. The defense of the Golden State Warriors fell apart in Game 5 due to the combined absence of Draymond Green, compounded with a late injury to Andrew Bogut.
After dropping game four in heartbreaking fashion, the Cavs have a chance at redemption. The Warriors are looking to win their second title within in the confines of Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs must protect home court and give themselves a chance in an "anything can happen" game seven.
Who? Golden State Warriors (3-2) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (2-3)
When? 9 p.m. EST
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? ABC
Enemy blog: Golden State Of Mind
With Draymond Green
and Kevin Love absent in game five, the Cavs, namely James and Irving, were able to produce a huge offensive outing and shred a normally stout Warriors defense. While things will change with Green returning to the lineup, the health of Bogut is very much still up in the air. Now that the floodgates have opened, the Warriors may have a more trouble corralling the Cavs dynamic duo moving forward.
Irving rebounded from two subpar outings to start the series and is now proving to both himself and the world that he can make an impact on basketball's brightest stage. Irving is averaging 35 points and six assists a game over his last three outings while shooting a blistering 55.9 percent shooting from the field. If he can keep this level of play up, combined with the way LeBron plays in elimination games the Cavs should be in pretty good shape in Game 6Coming home means that the Cavs will expect more production from their role players along with Kevin Love. Tyronn Lue has already announced that Love will start Game 6, although it remains to be seen who Steve Kerr decides to start at center in the event that Andrew Bogut cannot play.
The absence of Bogut was truly felt on both ends of the floor for the Warriors in game five, as they lacked the consistent screen setting to free up Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as an option for the duo to pass to when the Cavs trapped the pick and roll. While Green will be able to perform these roles in game six, the absence of Bogut should limit the effectiveness of the Warriors when Green sits as well as increase the load he must handle throughout the game. As we've seen time and time again, Green is the straw that stirs the drink on both ends of the floor for the Warriors. With him functioning as the central hub and their lone multi-threat screen setter, the importance of LeBron's defensive play on him becomes magnified.
The Cavs will also need to put an emphasis on moving the ball and staying active off of the ball. While Irving and James managed to score on a number of stagnant possessions, their one on one game is usually far more effective when it comes off of initial ball movement. They need to make the defense rotate and try to compromise it prior to the attack, rather than go into a set Warriors defense that will undoubtedly make adjustments heading into game six.
If Bogut is out and the Cavs can get meaningful contributions from more than just James and Irving, it's hard to imagine that wouldn't be all the help needed for LeBron to push this series to seven games. The Warriors will try to take away the other options and force James and Irving to make tough shots, whether they can find and maintain production as a team will likely determine the outcome of this game.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
This game feels like a bit of a coin flip. Even if Bogut does play, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't be limited given how bad his injury looked. My gut feeling says that the Cavs will pull this game off and force a Game 7 in Oakland. Cavs win 107-102.