Network Notebook: Can Cavs Stay Alive in Game 5
CLEVELAND DODGED ELIMINATION IN GAME FOUR, BUT MUST NOW WIN IN OAKLAND TO EXTEND SERIES
Many of you are surprised that Monday Night's fifth game of the 2017 NBA Finals is even being played! Golden State was in position to finish off a historic 16-0 sweep through the whole playoffs late last week. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers had something so say about that. They spoke very emphatically with a 49-point first quarter on the way to a 137-116 win.
But, that was just one game. An all-or-nothing "you're not winning this on our home court" explosion that caught Golden State flat-footed and unprepared to respond. In Oakland…in front of a huge Warriors crowd…and facing a team that's still undefeated in the playoffs on this floor…can the Cavs spring another upset?
Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats from Friday's pointspread shocker (the Cavs covered by 27 points, and the game went Over by 26!) to see if there are any hints about how Monday Night's game might play out.
CLEVELAND 137, GOLDEN STATE 116
2-point shooting: Golden State 58%, Cleveland 52%
3-point shooting: Golden State 11/39, Cleveland 24/45
Free Throws: Golden State 27/36, Cleveland 21/31
Rebounds: Golden State 40, Cleveland 41
Turnovers: Golden State 12, Cleveland 11
You can see that it was all about the three-pointers. Yes, the Cavs had a ridiculously big free throw advantage in the first quarter. But, that evened out through four quarters. Many complainers were surprised to wake up the next morning to see that Golden State had more free throws than Cleveland did. The Cavs had slight wins in rebounds and turnovers, but was a whopping +39 points from behind the arc, in a game they only won by 23.
The ONLY reason Cleveland survived was because they shot lights out from long range. Golden State won two-pointers and free throws. Golden State stopped throwing the ball out of bounds and into opponents' hands so often (after suffering 20 and 18 turnovers in Games 2-3). It's not like Golden State "cooled off." Their scoreboard total of 116 points would have been enough to win the prior three games.
Cleveland must win three-pointers again to steal Game Five. Golden State won the category in each of the first three games, and was plus 15 in makes before Friday. That's the key area handicappers must focus on. Can the Warriors do a better job of guarding the arc? Can Cleveland make a run at 15 makes or more, if we assume that something as high as 24 is unlikely to be repeated? Totals of 11-9-12 in the first three games obviously wasn't enough. You know Golden State is going to be ultra-focused after a loss. The angry Warriors aren't going to give anything away.
We talked about pace last week. Cleveland has made a point of saying that they're not going to slow things down. They actually did go slower in Game Four as they sat on a big lead. And, the first quarter might not have seemed so fast paced if the refs weren't so whistle crazy. We're still skeptical that the Cavs can win in a fast-break game, particularly now that they're back on the road. Will they make a strategic tweak now that nobody's expecting it?
JIM HURLEY will continue to use all of his NETWORK resources to pin down the right information before tip-off. That will include the team side, and might involve the total as well.
Current Line: Golden State by 8.5, total of 231
Our SCOUTS and SOURCES travelling with the series will report in from Oakland. Our STATHEADS will keep crunching all the numbers, noting the improvement Cleveland has been showing through the series. Our TREND HISTORIANS will review all Game 5 results in history, particularly those were a team with a 3-1 lead is playing at home. Our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS will keep tweaking the simulations. And our WISE GUY connections from both sides of the line will let us know what the smart money is going.
Like always, JIM HURLEY will do what he can to find you BIG, JUICY WINNERS!
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Today, the focus is basketball…and what might be the final night of the NBA Championships. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!
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