OAKLAND, Calif., Sporting Alert — The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will battle in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, seeking a win for different reasons.
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After racing through the opening 15 games of this year’s playoffs, the Warriors’ win streak was snapped in Game 4, but the Western Conference champions are confident about wrapping this series up and securing theirs second NBA title in three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers, who shot lights out in a 137-116 victory in Game 4 when going 24-of-45 from 3-point range at home on Friday to avoid being swept, are hoping to build on that momentum heading into what is expected to be another challenging game at the ORACLE Arena.
Another victory tonight for the Cavs would see LeBron James and Co. forcing a sixth game in Cleveland, as they continue their push to create NBA history.
Veteran Richard Jefferson, who is expected to spend a lot of time guarding Kevin Durant again in Game 5, outlines what this game is shaping up to be.
“I can tell you a lot of people didn’t believe that we wanted to get on a plane and come back here,” he said. “I guarantee you they don’t want to get on a plane and go back to Cleveland [for Game 6] because then we’ll probably be getting on a plane and coming back here again.
“We believe our fans in Cleveland are so good and we play so well at home that if we win Game 5, it’s probably going to go seven, and anything can happen in Game 7.”
Jefferson added: “I’ve guarded K.D. since he came into this league. He’s one of the best talents the league has seen. It’s the same with guarding LeBron.
“I had to do that [with other teams], all the high-level small forwards, Carmelo [Anthony of the Knicks]. You have your hands full . . . There is no stopping K.D.
“There is no stopping LeBron or Steph [Curry] or Kyrie [Irving]. It’s just trying to give them different looks that take away one or two possessions a game.”
Golden State entered Game 5 last season in a similar position and ended up losing in seven games.
However, the addition of Durant in the offseason has made the Warriors a better team and head coach Steve Kerr believes it will be a “different situation” this time.
“Totally different situation. Different team,” he said. “They’re a different team also. We’re in a much better position this year.
“We’re healthy, we got Kevin Durant. That’s a good thing. But they’re better too. They’re a better team too.”
In Game 1, the Warriors eased to a 113-91 victory before taking Game 2 by a score of 132-113 and the third game 118-113.
The series was once a lopsided and boring 3-0 advantage for the Warriors.
Now it’s 3-1, a little more exciting and unpredictable.
Still, Durant is prepared to continue to have some fun.
“We’ll just come and play our game, continue to build on what we’ve been doing since Day 1 of training camp,” said the former Oklahoma City Thunder forward.
“(We’re) looking forward to going out there and having some fun (Monday). That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Cavaliers managed to stave off elimination in Game 4 last week, but ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is giving the Warriors an 80 percent chance to win and closeout this series at home.
Can Cleveland win again in the face of elimination?