Welcome back to '3 Shots' everyone as we monitor Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to force a Game 6 back at Quicken Loans Arena, while the Golden State Warriors can wrap up their second NBA title in the last 3 years with a victory.
At the half, the Warriors are on top 71-60 in a wild half of basketball. Here's what we've noticed:
1. The Cavaliers played a VERY strong 1st quarter
I was curious to see how the Wine and Gold would come out tonight in hostile territory. They were able to stake themselves out to a 37-33 lead after one quarter thanks in large part to their defense. Getting 12 points apiece from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving doesn't hurt, either. But the Cavs held Golden State to just 42% shooting from the field. They also outrebounded the Warriors, had more points in the paint, and more assists. And they did their damage with Kevin Love out with two early fouls. The Warriors also had their problems with foul trouble as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were each tagged with two early personals.
2. The spotlight is on the referees tonight...big time
Considering how much of a free-for-all Game 4 was, tonight's game so far has been called very tightly by the officials. That seemed to bother the Cavaliers a little bit in the second quarter, especially after the refs seemed to miss a foul on Durant during a James dunk that would have caused him to pick up his third foul and sit for the rest of the half. The Cavs at that point led 41-33 with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.
Take a look here and you can see why James and the Cavs were bent out of shape:
Another look at LeBron's ridiculous dunk on KD pic.twitter.com/E867zH88fR— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 13, 2017
After that point, Golden State seized command of the game with a blistering 21-2 run that happened in the blink of an eye.
Then the refs took center stage again with 3:08 to go in the half when J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson were involved in a scuffle with David West. All three received technicals, but you could certainly argue that West's actions could have merited an ejection. That's the second time in this series that's been the case.
3. The Cavaliers have to stop playing shell-shocked
Every good thing the Cavs did before the James-Durant play went by the wayside afterwards. The Wine and Gold stopped playing defense. They were careless with the basketball. They stopped attacking the rim. That said, J.R. Smith hit a couple of clutch three-point baskets before halftime to pull the Cavs to within 11.
Kevin Love needs to start scoring. He's got a zero next to his name so far.
Watch the Cavs early in the 3rd quarter and see if they can re-capture that energy that they started the game with. A 'diff' of -11 to Golden State is very difficult to overcome. The Cavs need to go step-by-step and not try to get it all back at once.
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