The Cleveland Cavaliers showed in Game 5 why they were not going down easy in the 2016 NBA Finals. Down 3-1 in the series, and the series shifting back to Oakland for Game 5, it was almost certain that the Cavaliers were going home. However, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had other plans. The two scored 41 points apiece and shot over 50 percent for the game. Not only did James and Irving light up the offense but James grabbed 16 rebounds and Irving facilitated the offense with six assists. For the Golden State Warriors, it was Klay Thompson who was keeping up with the Cavaliers, scoring 37 points on 55 percent shooting. With Game 6 on Thursday and the series 3-2 in favor of the Warriors, here is a look at what each team needs to do win.
What the Cavaliers need to do to Force a Game 7
With a monster performance from James and Irving, the Cavaliers must do the same to get those two in rhythm from the get-go. James came out attacking in the first quarter of Game 5, scoring 12 points. This is how it led the Warriors to start double-teaming James which led to Irving getting his touches in the second quarter. Both James and Irving went on a tear in the second quarter to keep up the fast-paced Warriors' offense.
The second half was a completely different story. The Cavaliers outscored the Warriors 51 to 36. The Cavaliers shot an outstanding 53 percent for the game and held the Warriors to 36.4 percent from the field. It was James and Irving who led the way but then there were the players behind them. Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Richard Jefferson had limited roles on offense but without them, the Cavaliers would've been in trouble. Thompson kept it going for the Cavaliers, grabbing 15 rebounds for the game. He was grabbing 50-50 balls and keeping plays alive for James and Irving to get another chance to score. The Cavaliers desperately need this type of performance from Thompson in Game 6 to out-body the Warriors' small-ball lineup.
J.R. Smith had ten points and Richard Jefferson had eight points, were the go-to-guys when either James or Irving drove to the basket and was double-teamed. They hit their shots when the opportunity was there even though Smith struggled. Nonetheless, this took off the pressure for the Cavaliers to keep going to James and Irving on offense. The options are there and the Cavaliers need to realize this for Game 6 to take the load off James and Irving.
What seemed as the Cavaliers "Big 3" is now the "Big 2." Of course, the missing link here is Kevin Love. Love had a minimal impact, to say the least. He played almost 33 minutes, scored two points and just took five shots for the game. Kevin Love needs to understand that he used to be a big time player and that he can still impact the game. He needs to show up for Game 6 because James and Irving will be guarded differently by the Warriors.
What the Warriors need to do to Repeat as NBA Champions
The Warriors can simply forget about Game 5. Forward Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 due to a foul that was upgraded to a flagrant 1 after Game 4's win. However, what looked to be a good game and a chance to pull it out in the first half, the complete opposite happened in the second half. Early in the third quarter of Game 5, center Andrew Bogut collided with J.R. Smith and injured his knee on the play. Later MRI reports concluded that Bogut will be out for 6-8 weeks and will miss the rest of the NBA Finals. A huge blow for the Warriors as they struggled without him from there on out.
The only bright spot for the Warriors was the game Klay Thompson had himself a game. He scored 37 points but his Splash Brother, Stephen Curry struggled. Curry did score 25 points but struggled from the field, shooting 8 for 21. Thompson and Curry both need hit the magic number of 52. 52 is the number of points these two averaged as a backcourt in the regular season. When Steph and Klay both go off, they are unstoppable. With that said, they need to have great performances in Game 6 in order to win on the road and repeat as champions.
Steph Curry was not the only one who struggled in Game 5 but it was notables such as Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, and Leandro Barbosa. Barnes was quiet for the game, scoring five points and shot just 2 for 14 from the field. Barnes, who can light it up in a matter of minutes, seemed too soft. Like in Game 4, Barnes came out strong and looked to be in the offense each trip. However, with the moment getting to his head, Barnes shied away from the game. The other two, Livingston and Barbosa, they too were absent on the offensive end. Livingston and Barbosa give the Warriors the offensive spark when either Curry or Thompson are off. With another chance to win it all in Game 6, these three are the Warriors' dark horses and need to come out strong.
With Draymond Green coming back from suspension to play in Game 6, the Warriors can breathe a sigh of relief. Green, who can get it done on both ends, will need to be the game's MVP as Bogut is out. However, he will not be alone as Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli will be there to help if Green cannot do it all himself. Game 6 will require the Warriors' bigs or small in this case to match the Cavaliers' efficient offense.
With all these factors that should come together for both teams, Game 6 will have an intense feel to it as the fans of Cleveland will desperately need a win to force a Game 7. For the Warriors, winning a championship on the road is never easy. The Warriors must not shy away as the game will get out of hand, courtesy of LeBron James and company. Game 6 is on Thursday, June 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET., at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.