Game four of the 2015 NBA Finals served up a mild surprise: the old Golden State Warriors actually showed up. They didn’t show up in their purest form, but they showed up, nonetheless, and got a much needed win to keep this a series. It took Steve Kerr listening to a 28-year old assistant to get Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup and offer center Andrew Bogut just three minutes. It also took a 3-14 shooting performance from Matthew Dellavedova and a tired-looking LeBron James.
Regardless, the Warriors bounced back, made this their series to lose and enter game five at Oracle Arena with all of the momentum. The big question, of course, is if they’ll actually take advantage of it. In what has been a highly entertaining series, it very well could be anyone’s guess. For those trying to conduct some NBA playoff betting on Sunday, though, they need more than a guess. Let’s break tonight’s matchup down and see what we may be in for:
Cleveland Cavaliers (2) @ Golden State Warriors (1) on ABC at 8:00 pm ET
One key to game five is just how much of what the Warriors did in game five will trickle down into game five. Will Golden State really keep Bogut off the floor that much, can Iggy step up with yet another big game on both ends of the court, and can we finally see a vintage outing by the Splash Brothers? Considering the Warriors have now lost just four games at home all year, one also has to factor in their elite home court advantage – although few would balk at the idea that there is no such thing in these playoffs.
On the flip side, LeBron James looked flat out tired in the game four loss, and he should be well rested for this massive clash. The same can be said for his lackluster supporting cast. Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson have all for the most part had a positive impact in this series, but both Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith definitely disappeared last game. For Cleveland to win another game at Oracle Arena, it may take some fine shooting from one or both of their wing players.
There’s another wrinkle the Cavs could throw in here, too. Just like the Warriors switched things up, Cleveland could dig deeper into it’s bench and try to beat some life out of the likes of Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and/or Kendrick Perkins. These guys are mostly has-been’s at this point but all have distinct attributes they could bring to the table to help shake things up a bit. Marion is a total x-factor who can bring hustle plays and defense to the table, Perkins offers toughness and Miller can hit open shots and space out the floor. Of course, it’s also pretty arguable that if the Cavs are reaching back into the dumpster bin for extra help, they already can see their fate written on the wall.
Saying the NBA Finals has shifted is one thing, but when the oddsmakers made the Warriors -8.5 favorites for game five, you can really believe that momentum shift is real. I’m still very concerned about James and these Cavs and at this point, I see this thing going the full seven games. However, Golden State is extremely tough to beat at home and of the two sides, they’re the first to really show serious adjustment and depth. If the Cavs are forced to explore either on their own squad, they could get exploited further in game five. I still like Cleveland to stay within the +8.5 (ATS) but I’ll take the Warriors straight up. With this shifted back to Oracle Arena, I also like the Warriors to play more their pace which should drive the score up and give bettors a crack at the Total (195.5).
Pick: Warriors 104, Cavaliers 101