Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio will be the sight of tonight’s game six of the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors hold a 3-2 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. A win tonight for the Golden State would mark their second consecutive NBA Championship.
Draymond Green returns for the Warriors from his one game suspension, served during game five. Green absence had a large impact, as the Cavs defeated the Warriors 112- 97. Green has played stellar throughout these finals and he is eager to return.
“I have a strong belief that if I play in Game 5, we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play,” Green said. “I move on from the suspension. That was Game 5; we’re here in Game 6, so it’s behind us. We got an opportunity to do something that, I don’t know if it’s ever been done … where you win a championship on someone else’s floor two years in a row. We have that opportunity. It’s a fun one. It’ll be tough.”
While Green returns certainly helps the Warriors, center Andrew Bogut has been sidelined with a knee injury for the rest of the finals. The combination of Bogut’s injury and Greens suspension spelled doom for the Warriors in game five. Even with Green returning, the Warriors still need to make some adjustments.
“It’s tough not to have Bogues out there,” Green said at practice Wednesday. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer in our offense, great facilitator. It’s not like a loss where you say it doesn’t matter. It definitely matters. We’re going to miss him. But one thing we always talk about is our depth. So it’s an opportunity for someone else to step up.”
Steve Kerr the coach of the Warriors, used Harrison Barnes and Anderson Varejao to fill the void left by an injured Bogut, to no avail. Fetus Ezeli could be the option the Warriors need to look to, as a solution for this conundrum.
Stephen Curry has regained his offensive potency, that was missing from the first three games of the NBA Finals. That said, the first ever unanimous MVP has been a defensive liability against Kyrie Irving. Irving has dominated the Warriors defense the last three games, scoring 30+ points. Curry, who will reportedly need surgery after the finals, has to find a way to slow down Irving.
“Yeah, I want to honestly play better and be more consistent,” Curry said. “But the situation is that we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win.”
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, a loss would not only mean the end of the season, but once again another year LeBron James will have failed to deliver on his promise to win a NBA Championship as a Cleveland Cavalier.
On Monday, James and Irving scored 41 points, the first time that teammates had ever done that in the NBA Finals. For James and Irving, the challenge will be to keep up this scoring effort. Game five really showed how lethal the Cavs can be when Irving and James are playing at a high level.
“As soon as the buzzer ended in Game 5, all I could think about was preparation for Game 6,” Irving said. “Watched some film and the next 24 hours would be just solely focused on how we can be better for Game 6.”
“My only expectation for myself is to be there and be rock for our team throughout the whole game,” James said. “Statistics vary but me being a leader for our team for all 48 minutes will always be consistent.”
Cavs, have all but given up on finding production from the substitution players. So the Cavs challenge tonight will be to not only win, but find a way to make their possessions count.
Last year the Cavs struggled with their conditioning, late in the Finals, and that must be a concern to someone.
“We have confidence we can win the series,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I mean, that’s why we’re playing. We know we’re down 3-2. We were down 3-1, so we won it on their home floor, a hostile environment. We’re coming back to our place where we know we play great, and we’re going into it to win the series. But you’ve got to take it game by game, one game at a time.”