The Cleveland Cavaliers did what they had to do in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, beating the Warriors at ORACLE to force a Game 6 in Cleveland on Thursday.
But do the Cavs have a legitimate chance of winning the series, or did they simply delay the inevitable? After all, the odds of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving going for 41 points apiece again is slim to none.
“It’s pretty much been the story of the Cavs all season long,” NBA-TV host and reporter Jared Greenberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “They’re an incredibly talented bunch. It’s something that even LeBron has kind of preached about on a regular basis. There’s winning games, and then there’s winning a certain way, which gives you a good feeling about being able to duplicate that success. What happened the other night was incredible. There’s nothing to hide. Kyrie Irving was amazing. But did he do anything that was in the scouting report that said, ‘Okay, go shoot 75 percent, go get 41 points and have the Warriors miss pretty much every shot in the last six minutes of the game’? That’s not going to happen again. So not that the Cavs can’t win a game or two games, but they’re not going to win it that way.
“That’s the thing that’s kind of bugged me about the Cavs,” Greenberg said. “They’re so good, but they just go and freestyle and win games and that doesn’t give you a feeling that, ‘Okay, we’re going to be able to go and do that again.’ Meanwhile, the Warriors stay true to their identity. Even when they lose, they look like the Warriors, so you understand how they’re trying to play the game – and that’s what’s got to be frustrating for Cavs fans.”
The Warriors will welcome Draymond Green back from suspension for Game 6 but could be without Andrew Bogut, who sustained a painful knee injury in the third quarter of Game 5 and did not return. Normally, losing your starting center is cause for major concern.
Greenberg, however, thinks the Warriors can still win this series even if Bogut doesn’t play another minute.
“Well, it’s interesting,” he said. “I would have said before the series it would have loomed large. We saw early in the series in Game 2 when he had those five blocks. I think what’s impressed me so much about Golden State is we’ve talked about the ‘Lineup of Death’ and how good they are going small, but there have been plenty of times this year – and I guess it gets overlooked – when I’ve seen the Warriors go big and stay big and beat teams that way. So I think Bogut’s ability to protect the rim and score down low (is valuable). People forget how dangerous of a scorer he was. I understand he had all these injuries in Milwaukee and early in his career and he was frustrating to watch, not living up to the hype of being a top pick. But he’s really an incredibly talented two-way guy.
“But now as this series evolved, I just think Steve Kerr has so many other options and ways to go,” Greenberg continued. “If the Cavs become the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the series, we’re not going to circle Andrew Bogut not being there. He can certainly help, but he’s not going to be the reason the Warriors lose this series. Steve Kerr will find other ways, whether it be with (Festus) Ezeli or (Anderson) Varejao at times or going with (Marreese) Speights occasionally. But they know they can go with Draymond Green at the center spot and how much of an advantage that will be. Having him back will be the key to them winning or losing Game 6.”