Apparently, Moses from the Bible was in Oakland tonight.
Thousands of years after parting the Red Sea to save the Israelites from the Egyptians, Moses decided he wanted to catch an NBA game and part some more seas. This time, however, it was the Golden State defense that he split in two.
With Draymond Green suspended, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving feasted on the open lanes in the Warriors' defense to score a combined 82 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The final score ended with the Cavs winning 112-97.
This game highlighted Green's extreme importance to the Warriors' success, as Golden State allowed 46 points in the paint and 28 fastbreak points. In comparison, the Warriors scored a measly 9 points in transition, something that would never happen if Green was on the floor. Green excels at starting and finishing fast breaks and the Warriors were desperate for some of that high-flying energy.
The Oracle crowd came out roaring as Andre Iguodala was playing like he had already won the 2016 Finals MVP trophy. In the first quarter, Iguodala had eight points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals and his play helped force numerous Cavaliers turnovers. After a few deep Klay Thompson threes and one memorable Shaun Livingston posterizing dunk on Richard Jefferson, the score was tied 50-50 going into halftime.
Klay Thompson was hot from beyond the arc in the first half and so was Lebron James, who was a sharp shooter from the perimeter all night. Stephen Curry and Thompson did end up scoring a combined 62 points on 11-25 shooting from three, but it was the lack of second half defense and poor shot selection that equaled a 15 point Cavalier victory in the end.
The Warriors shot a dismal 27% from the field in the second half and missed a total of 28 three pointers throughout the game.
With Green out, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr tried desperately to find a lineup that would work against the red-hot combo of Lebron and Kyrie. Early on in the first quarter, the lineup of Curry, Barbosa, Livingston, McAdoo, and Ezeli was thrown out onto the court and Lebron saw this as a challenge, driving to the hoop at will. Kerr had this to say after the game in regards to his many different lineups.
"We tried a lot of different things. Nothing seemed to work. It was one of those nights...we played four, five people at center, just trying to find something that worked."
Golden State's defense was very bad tonight and Lebron and Kyrie took notice, scoring at will from both inside and outside.
Lebron finished with 41 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists, which is a similar statline to the last time a Lebron James team faced elimination on the road (2012 ECF - Lebron had 45-15-5 in Boston). Kyrie Irving had a fantastic game and also scored 41 points, making numerous and-one layups. It was the first time teammates scored 40+ points in a Final game.
The injury bug has been good to the Warriors in these Finals but that all changed in the third quarter. Andrew Bogut went up to block a JR Smith layup and came down awkwardly, spraining his left knee. An MRI for the Aussie is scheduled for tomorrow but as he was writhing in pain underneath the basket, I could tell it was serious. The Warriors will have Draymond Green back for Game 6 on Thursday but now they might be without Bogut. Bogut has been playing incredibly slowly as of late and another insertion of Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup might be good for Golden State.
Warriors fans began to trickle out of Oracle Arena at around the 2:30 mark of the 4th quarter, with their team down 16 points. It's a weird feeling when the Dubs lose at home and it's especially disheartening to see Dub Nation leaving early. The player's seem to be in a weird funk as well, as Ros Gold reported after the game.
While Cavs fan can rejoice and celebrate stealing a game at Oracle, the Warriors are in a similar position as last year, which is why I'm not too worried. The Warriors won the championship in Cleveland last year up 3-2 in the series and as of right now, the Warriors are heading to Cleveland up 3-2.
This team is one of the greatest of all-time, don't ever forget that.