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NBA Journal, June 16

   by Larry Ness - 06/16/2016

Playoff Journal (June 16)

The Cavs and Warriors were tied at 61-all at the half in Game 5. However, while LBJ and Irving continued to stay hot in the second half (each would finish with 41 points), the Warriors maged just 23 points in the third quarter, entering the final period down by nine. A 13-point fourth quarter doomed them, as the Cavs kept their season alive with an impressive 112-97 win. Golden St shot just 26.7 percent as a team in that second half, including a woeful 3 of 21 on three-pointers (after making 11 of 22 in the first half). Iquodala started in place of Green and had 15-11-6 but the bench added only 15 points, on 5 of 20 shooting. Bogut was scoreless in eight minutes (got hurt in the third quarter) and Harrison Barnes was a dreadful 2 of 14 from the floor.

Thompson had 37 points and Curry 25 (went a combined 11 of 25 on threes) but it was not nearly enough. The Cavs shot 54.3 percent as a team, after connecting on just 43.6 percent through the first four games of the series. Thompson (14 rebounds) gave Cleveland a strong game but the other two starters did not. Love attempted just FIVE shots (scoring two points), while J.R. Smith was 3 of 9 for 10 points. One would think that the Cavs won’t be able to win again with just LBJ and Irving contributing, but then again...

Golden State’s Game 4 win was the first by a road team in this series, then the Cavs made it two in a row for the road team in Game 5 at Oakland. Overall, home teams in the Conference and NBA Finals are 13-5 SU and ATS. Checking in on the postseason numbers to-date, home teams are 57-27 SU (.679) and 51-33 ATS (60.7%). Fifty-one of the 84 games have stayed under (also 60.7%) and those following the Zig-Zag theory are 36-33 but minus-0.3 net games. Tonight’s Game 6 tips at 9:00 ET on ABC and the Cavaliers are favored by two points.

The Warriors’ loss on Monday dropped teams up 3-1 in the NBA Finals to 17-16 in Game 5s, all-time. The Cavaliers will try to make history and stay alive by winning Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Cleveland against the defending champion Warriors. Facing a “must-win” situation at home, the Cavs likely can’t help but recall the agony of the 2015 NBA Finals when the Warriors sealed the championship in Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena. History tells us that only TWO of 32 teams down 3-1 in NBA Finals have managed to take the series to seven games, the last time coming all the way back in 1966. A Golden St win would mark only the SECOND time a team has clinched a championship on an opponents floor two years in a row (the Boston Celtics won back-to-back titles in Los Angeles in 1968 and 1969).

Naturally, the Cavs are hoping that the team’s Game 5 momentum carries over to Game 6. LBJ and Kyrie Irving scored 41 points apiece in Cleveland's 112-97 victory in Game 5 (first time in NBA history that two players scored 40 points in a single game), denying the Warriors a chance to repeat on their home court at Oracle Arena. Of course, Cleveland knows Game 6 will be different with Draymond Green back on the court for the Warriors. He missed Game 5 while serving a one-game suspension for his below-the-belt hit on James. "My only job is to get this win, man," LBJ said. "We have a great opportunity to protect home court and go into two of the best words ever, and that's Game 7. So hopefully we can protect home. That's all that matters."

Green said "it was one of the weirdest days of my life" when he was not able to play in Game 5 and could not be in the building. "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 after watching the Cavs' victory from O.co Coliseum next to Oracle Arena while serving his suspension. "I move on from the suspension. That was Game 5; we're here in Game 6.” However, the Warriors will be without center Andrew Bogut, who will miss the remainder of the Finals due to a left knee injury. An MRI revealed that Bogut will not require surgery but he will be sidelined 6-8 weeks. Bogut had FIVE blocks in the Warriors' Game 2 victory but his role had been limited during the series. He only averaged 12 minutes per game, putting up 3.2 points and grabbing 3.0 rebounds per game. He’s averaged 4.6 & 5.7 in 22 postseason games. The Warriors are expected to start either Draymond Green at center with sixth man Andre Iguodala added to the starting lineup or start backup center Festus Ezeli in Game 6.

With the Warriors coming off a loss, let’s note that this season (post and regular), Golden St is 14-1 SU and 11-4 ATS following a loss. Looking at the Cavs, let’s note that Cleveland is 14-0 this postseason when reaching triple digits (has averaged 110.4 PPG) but 0-5 when failing to each 100 points (89.2 PPG in those contests). My next journal will be available Sunday by 12 noon ET (either a Game 7 preview or an NBA 2016 postseason wrap-up).

Good luck...Larry

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