The only thing that was more badass than Metallica playing "Star-Spangled Banner" in Game 5 of the NBA Finals? Golden State’s star-spangled team performance. King James went nuts as expected but the Dubs, led by Chef Curry, countered with a ferocious team effort to claw out a 104-91 victory, and a 3-2 series lead.
It was a 13-point win for Golden State but the game was a seesaw battle as the home team wasn't able to pull away until the game's last few minutes. Below is our summary and our notes on what to expect in the next (and possibly final) encounter.
1) LEBRON JAMES STARS IN..."PASAN KO ANG DAIGDIG!"
The basketball demigod we know as LeBron James has come up huge once again as he tallied 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. However, King James’ freakish triple double came up short against this powerful Warriors squad. Is his adversary’s massive weaponry simply too much, even for the great LeBron James, to overcome?
Video via GD's Final Highlights
Effect on series: David Blatt can give a pep talk better than King Leonidas' “Tonight we dine in hell” speech but the Cavs’s confidence has taken a hit and may be permanently damaged. LeBron delivered for his team big time yet they still lost. What else can Cleveland ask of their captain—score a hundred? On the flipside, the Warriors are now self-assured more than ever; don’t be surprised if they’re able close things out on the road.
What the Cavs must do in Game 6: They may be deflated at this point but they’ve got no choice but to show up for Game 6 and play to the best of their ability. And maybe pray for LeBron to have a historic outing wherein he goes for 70 points or notch a quintuple-double. If that's what needs to be done, can LeBron summon the gumption for such a historic, backs-to-the-wall performance?
2) HONEY, I SHRUNK THE MOZGOV
After his 28-point, 10-rebound career night in Game 4, Cleveland’s starting center Timofey Mozgov had nothing to show for in this outing. The big man laid an egg except for a couple of turnovers in nine minutes of action. Golden State’s small ball line up has COMPLETELY taken him out of the Cavs rotation, which is a welcome sight if you’re a Dubs fan as Cleveland’s menacing inside presence was cut in half.
With Tristan Thompson’s twin tower on the sideline, the Warriors were much more comfortable attacking the basket, thus leading to a rare overall edge on the offensive glass, 11 to 10.
Effect on series: The Cavaliers have a tough dilemma for the next game. Do they bench Mozgov and try to match the Warrior’s small lineup or trust the Russian big man to keep in pace with the up-tempo game that the Dubs are employing? It’s a pick-your-poison situation that the Cavs are facing at the moment.
What the Cavs must do: If we were David Blatt, we would stick with what has given our squad a pair of wins in this championship series. We would start Timofey and have him play major minutes. His pairing with Tristan Thompson in the paint has been a big reason why the Cleveland has beaten Golden State twice out of five meetings. We've seen in Game 5 that the Cavs can't keep up this kind of pace, so why continue to play right into GSW's hands instead of forcing the grinding action from their two victories?
3) THE BEST CURRY WE'VE TASTED FROM THE SERIES
Golden State’s carrying all the pressure in this tiff because had they lost, Cleveland would’ve had the chance to win the title at home. Steph knew that so he chose the perfect time to have his shakin' and bakin' breakout part in the Finals. Chef Curry’s 37-point entrée spearheaded an explosive Warriors charge including 17 game-breaking markers in the last quarter. He hit seven treys, breaking Delly's heart (and ankles) a couple of times.
Video via Ximo Pierto 2
Effect on series: Now that Curry has proven that he can match LeBron’s unbelievable output, the talented Golden State Warriors will be extremely hard to beat. An on-point Stephen Curry leading a team with an endless supply of firepower might just be too much for the Cavs to handle.
What the Cavs must do: Delly must step his D up. He did it a few times in Game 5 as he extracted at least three turnovers from Steph but hasn't been able to sustain it. Has the fatigue of chasing after Curry finally caught up to everyone's favorite feel-good story of the series? At this point, trapping Curry with two guys might not be a bad idea for Cleveland—even if that does leave one of the four other offensively-capable guys free for a shot.
4) GAME 5 EPITOMIZED THE WARRIOR MANTRA "STRENGTH IN NUMBERS"
Curry may have had 37 markers but it really was the Dubs’ team game that got them past LeBron James. Contrary to what Cleveland was doing (which was to simply give LBJ the ball and have him do everything) a number of warm bodies on the Golden State squad contributed significantly. We give these guys a shoutout here.
Leandro Barbosa: The Brazilian Blur scored 13 points off the bench. His buckets were huge as he scored most of them during the stretch when the Cavs and the Dubs were exchanging leads more times than Caitlyn Jenner went under the knife.
Draymond Green: He had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. He had a terrific all-around game. He also made the right plays when a double-teamed Steph Curry relinquished the ball to him.
Harrison Barnes: Barnes had a tough match-up against the Cavs rebounding machine Tristan Thompson but he held his own. Harrison grabbed 10 boards, which included two acrobatic offensive ones during the crucial juncture of the game. He also threw down a vicious left-handed slam over Mike Miller and Timofey Mozgov, which electrified the crowd and swung the momentum towards his crew's favor.
Andre Iguodala: He may be 2-11 on the foul line but he was fantastic everywhere else. He finished with a tasty across-the-board stat line of 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 dimes and 3 steals. And in spite of King James’ 40 buckets, Iggy bothered him enough to make him miss 19 times.
Video via GD's Final Highlights
Klay Thompson: There’s nothing spectacular about Klay’s 12 points in Game 5 but every single one of them was important. His lone three-ball of the game was humongous for the Warriors as it gave them a five point lead in the fourth quarter, a moment that gave them space to breathe in what became a grueling tug of war of a game.
If you’re a Dubs fan, give them a round of applause, if you’re rooting for the Cavs, don’t stab your monitor, please.