Despite LeBron James' second triple-double performance this Finals, the Golden State Warriors made a strong push in the fourth quarter and clinched a 104-91 victory at home. The series is now 3-2 in favour of Golden State.
The story of the night was small ball. Despite having had a dominant night in Game 4, Mozgov was taken out in favour of a smaller, more versatile lineup. At one point in the third period, the only true big man on the court was Tristan Thompson.
A sign of the NBA's future direction, perhaps?
And you wonder why Roy Hibbert is worried about his future. pic.twitter.com/NsHwnddDPT
— whitney (@its_whitney) June 15, 2015
The lineup change worked for Cleveland, somewhat. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith combined for 24 points total, and made up the early scoring punch Cleveland so desperately needed.
Mozgov's absence however gave the rebounding advantage to Golden State, who were absolutely committed to protecting the glass tonight. The lineup and game pace also worked to Golden State's advantage, and it was evident from the 18 fast break points this game, the most they've had all series.
Poor free throw shooting (2 of 11) aside, Andre Iguodala is making a huge claim for Finals MVP candidacy. He's undeniably the best defender the Dubs have against LeBron James. The veteran swingman made his shots count at critical junctions, especially when the ball came to him off a trapped Curry. Iguodala was edging triple-double territory this game with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
How Dellavedova's night went down
Matthew Dellavedova had 5 points, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 turnovers, playing almost 42 minutes in Game 5. That's the most minutes any Cavalier has played, outside of James. Heavy minutes might have sapped the guard's energy somewhat. The effort was there, but everything else wasn't.
Cleveland suffered from a spate of turnovers at the start. It wasn't until 8:40 in the first quarter, that the Cavaliers had their first bucket, courtesy of Dellavedova. Having cleared Curry off with a Mozgov screen and driving right in. Green had backed off to contain Mozgov's lob, so it was up to Delly to make the floater.
The point guard also hit a three early in the third quarter to put the Cavs ahead 55-54, but was otherwise quiet in scoring.
It then came down to defense. Everyone know Curry drought wouldn't last forever, and the vaunted Dellavedova defense didn't happen tonight. Delly tried his best to badger Curry and keep him uncomfortable, but to no avil. Chef Curry was cooking, and he would not be stopped.
The season MVP made 37 points on 13 of 23 shots, grabbed an impressive 7 rebounds while also recording 4 assists, 2 steals and 5 turnovers.
Here's another side effect of Cleveland's lineup change. The smaller five-man unit allowed Cleveland to switching defenders instead of hedging and recovering. On the not-so-bright side, it also generated mismatches, and and this was exactly what happened in the second quarter. Thompson switched up, and was forced to defend the Curry three, leaving Dellavedova to box Draymond Green on the shot.
Needless to say, he was overpowered. The Cleveland guard lost his footing, and dragged Green down together.
Both players were whistled for personal fouls on the play. Green however was very upset on the call, seeing as it was not his fault, and had to be restrained by Bogut.
Delly received more boos in the second quarter, when a mistimed Curry dribble went off Delly's foot --resulting in a turnover-- and was viewed by many as an intentional kick (video).
Dellavedova's kick, ball a little underinflated? pic.twitter.com/IJ4a1p7W1N
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) June 15, 2015
Every move of Delly's is being put under the microscope now, and Spurs writer Dan McCarney said it best.
Not sure I can remember a player who has had every single thing he does on the court attributed to an ulterior motive like Delly.
— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) June 15, 2015
Is he being over-analysed? It certainly seems like it. There is nothing much that can be done about critics however, except to continue playing hard, and hope he makes enough game-changing plays for Cleveland to have a fighting chance in Game 6.
Andrew Bogut (who was a DNP this game) and the Golden State Warriors are but one victory away from being crowned champions. According to ESPN, reigning MVPs with a 3-2 series lead are 13-0 in NBA Finals history.
Can the Cavaliers go against the odds and take the fight further at Cleveland? LeBron James has been stellar all series long, and he's confident about the next game, because.
Bravado perhaps? The man either scored or assisted on 81.3% of the Cavaliers' field goals in Game 5 - what more is there to do, could there be another gear left in King James' playoffs engine? No one's predicting a victory for the Cavs on Wednesday. Not if this guy has anything to say about it.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) June 15, 2015