The 2015 NBA Finals are almost over as, at a maximum, the championship series can only feature two more games. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors met in game five on Sunday night. Following a double-digit loss for the Cavs, the Warriors are now within one game of claiming their first NBA title in forty years.
Game five’s result re-affirmed that one standout player cannot make a championship team. LeBron James, twice an NBA champion in Miami, scored 40 points, he claimed 14 rebounds, and he had 11 assists. But despite what has to be called his best efforts the Cavs were not in game five in the dying minutes.
The reason is clear: LeBron doesn’t have a strong enough supporting cast with both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out.
J.R. Smith played well in game five but only in the first half. After a hot start, he finished the night 4 of 14 from behind the arc. As his support went so went the Cavs’ chances since none of the other players, besides LeBron, produced a standout performance.
Timofey Mozgov didn’t log big minutes following a stellar performance in game four. In nine minutes of playing time in game five he scored zero points, he had zero rebounds, and he had zero assists.
Matthew Dellavedova, the darling of the series for Cleveland in games two and three, came back down to Earth in game four and he stayed there in game five. He went just 2 of 9 from the floor for just five points, two assists, and no rebounds.
Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert didn’t play badly in game five but Cleveland still weren’t able to hang around with Golden State on Sunday night for the whole game. Heading into Tuesday’s game six, Cleveland Coach David Blatt appears to be practically out of options.
If anything, I think he should curb Dellavedova’s minutes by ten to fifteen percent and play Joe Harris for a few. However it’s hard to see how making that move would affect the outcome of the game by much: Cleveland’s chances largely come down to LeBron continuing his standout play and hoping that the other players rise up. However ‘rising to the occasion’ is not as simple as turning on a light switch and I think the Cavs are huge underdogs to win the 2015 NBA title.
That said, they are not out of the series yet. Cleveland will host game six and that gives them a fair chance to win, a result that would force a deciding game seven.
Cleveland fans can hope that their Cavs win on home court and then take the series to a one-and-done situation. Anything can happen in that scenario so the 2014/15 Cavs are by no means down and out yet.
Game six is scheduled for Tuesday night with a start time of 9pm ET.