Roll with Warriors Momentum vs. Cavaliers as No Hope is Left for LeBron & Co. in Game 6

David Lawrence

Monday, June 15, 2015 7:28 PM GMT

The Cavaliers have been outmaneuvered the past two times by the Warriors in the NBA Finals. What is Cleveland going to do in response to this situation or can they at least cover the NBA spread?

The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because...
They have changed the series in such a way that they are playing it on their own terms, not Cleveland's. In the early games of this series, Cleveland's big men, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, were controlling the action. Mozgov was especially strong in the first few games, getting to the foul line a lot and earning the Cavs a lot of extra possessions, which slowed the game down and reduced Golden State's opportunity to run the floor and get easy baskets before the Cavaliers' defense could get set. However, once the Warriors went small in Game 4, everything about this series has changed. The Warriors scored just 87 points in regulation in Game 2, and 91 in Game 3. In Game 4, they scored 103 points in regulation, and in Game 5, they scored 104. They have clearly opened up their offense and have figured out ways to break down the Cavs, especially Matthew Dellavedova, who is still playing hard, but is not shutting down Stephen Curry the way he had for most of Games 2 and 3.

The Warriors have also been able to play with a crispness and efficiency that has made Timofey Mozgov less of a factor, such that David Blatt played him for only nine minutes in Game 5. Mozgov did not score a point in those nine minutes, and when he got switched onto Curry as part of a pick-and-roll, he was ineffective in limiting Curry's shot. Curry was 7 of 13 from three-point range, and the pick-and-roll action the Warriors generated was able to spring Curry on more than one occasion with Mozgov in the game. This is why Blatt planted him on the bench at crunch time, but the problem with that move for Cleveland is that Mozgov was not in the game to grab crucial rebounds. Harrison Barnes -- playing against the smaller lineup Blatt used as an intended counter for purposes of perimeter defense -- was able to get on the glass and come up with several offensive boards that limited the Cavs' chances at a comeback. Golden State has established tactical control of this series, and unless Cleveland gets a few special performances from players who haven't been special to this point in the series, the Cavs' are going to lose again in Game 6.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers Can Win Because...
They are playing at home and have responded very well in the playoffs each time they've faced a must-win situation. The Cavs are going to be a little more tired than they were in Game 5, because in Game 5, they had two full days off, whereas in Game 6, they'll have only one day off. However, a boisterous home crowd should help them through this game. The other thing to realize is that the Cavs did go deeper into their bench in Game 5, with Mike Miller making an appearance and going 14 minutes. This was closer to an eight-man rotation than a seven-man rotation. If Mozgov, who played only nine minutes in Game 5, can make himself more productive when he gets on the court, he could play 35 minutes in this game and reduce Cleveland's depth problem. Moreover, since there are two days off before Game 7, David Blatt can overextend his players here, counting on the fact that they will have a better chance of recovering for Friday if this series goes that far. Cleveland is not as limited as many people think, and you have to expect that LeBron James, the best player in the world, is going to score close to 40 points in this one. His 20-point game in Game 4 was the exception in this series, not the rule. Sunday's 40-point performance shows that Golden State still doesn't have an answer for him at all. As long as this game is close late, LeBron will make the difference for the Cavs.

 

Outlook
The Warriors have momentum right now and it doesn’t look like Cleveland has any answers. Even with a monstrous effort from LeBron James, the Cavs look like they’re in trouble. Look for Golden State to finish this thing off in Game 6, so take them with your NBA picks in this spot.

NBA Pick: Warriors at Bovada

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