The Golden State Warriors enter Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals as 8.5 point favorites. They’ve been favorited in every game this series but fell in Game 4 to bring the series back to Oakland. With the 3-1 series lead, it’s time for the Warriors to seal the deal.
The numbers three and one are demoralizing to everyone associated with the Warriors. Golden State blew a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals last season and became the first ever NBA franchise to do so. They can’t let that happen again, especially when winning the first three games in this series.
The Warriors in Game 5 of 2016 are completely different compared to Game 5 in 2017. Golden State is led by Kevin Durant, who replaced a playoff-struggling Harrison Barnes. Durant’s averaging 34.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists throughout the Finals while Barnes last season averaged less than 10 points and five rebounds per game. Durant’s addition is huge, but it’s a returning Warrior that makes the biggest difference.
The Warriors will have Draymond Green in the lineup tonight, something I couldn’t say last season. In Game 4 in 2016, Green punched LeBron James in the groin and received a one-game suspension. His antics almost cost him Game 5 this season.
Green was assessed a technical in the first quarter of Game 4 for hitting Iman Shumpert’s head. Officials called Green for another foul in the third quarter erupting Green and head coach Steve Kerr. The officials gave Kerr the technical, saving Green from a suspension. He’s lucky he didn’t repeat his antics from last season.
Green knows the importance of Game 5 and expects his team to return to form. This is what he told The Undefeated after Game 4:
“You have to give them credit, they were very aggressive,” said Green, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. “But when everyone has two fouls, it’s hard to match the physicality. We will bounce back. At the end of the day, we didn’t expect them to lay down. They came out and did exactly what we thought they were going to do. I can’t foresee them going to Oracle [Arena] and hitting 24 3s.
“We never felt like we were out of the game. We continued to push and we were right there.”
The Warriors need to play more aggressive to seal the deal. They let the Cavaliers score 137 points, the most points they’ve given up in the postseason.
With playing aggressive comes playing smart, and Green needs to play smart. Through four Finals games, Green’s committed at least four fouls in each game. Officials are watching him at all times and have shown they aren’t afraid to give him a technical. As the heart and soul of the Warriors, Green needs to stay composed.
Golden State can’t dig themselves into a hole they can’t get out of. Kevin Durant needs to prove signing with Golden State was the right decision and prevent James from building momentum. When James has momentum, he’s nearly unstoppable.
The Warriors are 0-4 in elimination these last two seasons against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s time for the Warriors to seal the deal.