The pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals takes place Sunday, June 14, in Oakland, California. The winner will move within one game of an NBA championship. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have played admirably up to this point, but this is the game that will likely determine if this series goes down as one of the best of all time.
When: Sunday, June 14, at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
What Cleveland Must Do to Win
For LeBron James, the key word is "aggression." He has to push the action and put pressure on the defense as often as he can. Andre Iguodala has done a decent job on him, but James has to look to physically overwhelm the smaller man by going into the low post on 70 to 80 percent of his touches. ESPN Stats & Info broke down James' effectiveness with Iggy guarding him in the series:
63% of the Cavaliers’ possessions last night finished with Andre Iguodala guarding LeBron James (48% in Games 1-3): pic.twitter.com/RnuroVVN60— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 12, 2015
Per this quote, the Cavs will reassess their approach after watching film:
The answer should be pretty simple: Get James the ball on the block more often, closer to the basket and earlier in the shot clock. On too many possessions, James is getting his touch with less than 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
The key word for Cavs coach David Blatt is "trust."
The rookie head coach has to trust some of the veterans on his bench who have seen little to no action during the Finals. Cleveland has only been playing seven players primarily, and that can't continue if Blatt hopes to see his team pull off the improbable win. That means some minutes for veterans like Shawn Marion and Mike Miller.
Meanwhile, James' supporting cast's key word is "ascend." At least one player from the group of Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert must step up. James needs help—especially on the perimeter. Delly, Smith and Shump can't shoot 3-of-22 from three-point range again.
What Golden State Must Do to Win
The Warriors must continue to go small. Andrew Bogut can't do anything against the Cavs aside from launching James into a cameraman.
Quite obviously, the Warriors must continue to start Iguodala. The team needs the energy Iggy provides, and it helps to wear James down on both ends of the floor. This dynamic changes a bit if Iguodala's jump shot stops falling. He came into the series struggling a bit from the outside, but he's made nine of his 22 threes in the series.
If the Warriors accomplish the aforementioned things, they will win this series in six games.