Golden State (3-2) at Cleveland (2-3)
When: Thursday, June 16th 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Time: 9:05 ET | TV: ABC
The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to duplicate Monday’s performance tonight in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors and force a deciding Game 7 on Sunday. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving became the first pair in NBA Finals history to each score 40 or more points in a game – both finished with 41. The pair accounted for 97 of the team’s 112 points in Game 5 including assists to other teammates. Irving went 9-of-14 from the field in the second half as Cleveland pulled away for a 112-97 victory on the road. “You’ve got a guy like this who is very special,” James told reporters of Irving. “It’s probably one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen live.” Cleveland is trying to become the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and needs another amazing effort from Irving and James. James is averaging 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the series and committed only two turnovers in Game 5 while Tristan Thompson is averaging 14 rebounds in the two wins and eight in the three losses in the series.
Draymond Green will return to the Golden State lineup tonight after being suspended for Game 5 for his fourth flagrant 1 foul. Head coach Steve Kerr could see the difference without Green on the floor. “I thought our defensive communication was lacking,” Golden State coach Steve Ker told reporters. “We had some plays where we didn’t pick up in transition and we had some cross matches that we didn’t identify and they got free, especially Kyrie, and made a lot of shots in transition where we just weren’t there.” Golden State’s defense took another hit in addition to the loss of Green when starting center Andrew Bogut went down early in the third quarter of Game 5 with a knee injury. Bogut did not return to the game and underwent an MRI that revealed bone bruises that will force him out for the rest of the Finals but will not require surgery. The Warriors could use a little more from the league MVP Steph Curry who went 8-of-21 from the field on Monday and is averaging 22.2 points on 42.4% shooting in the series – down from a league-best 30.1 points on 50.4% in the regular season. Golden State went 3-of-22 from 3-point range in the second half on Monday after hitting 11-of-21 in the first half.
The return of Green will make a difference from Game 5, but I think James and Irving stay hot and lead the Cavs to a Game 7 matchup back in Oakland. Cleveland does play much better at home and I think they get it done tonight.
Pick: Cavaliers -2