USA TODAY Sports
Warriors lead series 3-2
The Cleveland Cavaliers needed historic performances from Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to stay alive in the NBA Finals, and the two stars delivered. James and Irving will try to follow up their incredible efforts when Draymond Green returns to the lineup and the Golden State Warriors visit the Cavaliers with another chance to close out the series in Game 6 on Thursday.
Green was hit with a one-game suspension after the NBA deemed his hit to James’ groin in Game 4 a flagrant foul, and the Warriors defense was noticeably less cohesive without its leader. “I thought our defensive communication was lacking,” Golden State coach Steve Ker told reporters. “We had some plays where we didn’t pick up in transition and we had some cross matches that we didn’t identify and they got free, especially Kyrie, and made a lot of shots in transition where we just weren’t there.” James and Irving became the first pair of teammates in NBA Finals history to score at least 40 points in the same game when they both finished with 41 in Game 5, and Irving went 9-of-14 from the field in the second half as Cleveland pulled away. “You’ve got a guy like this who is very special,” James told reporters of Irving. “It’s probably one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen live.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as slight 2-point home favorites and were quickly bet to -2.5 and have been at that number ever since. The total has yet to move off the opening number 207.5. Check out the complete line history for Game 6 here.
SERIES PRICE (Per Pinnacle):
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State’s defense took a second hit in addition to the loss of Green when anchor Andrew Bogut went down early in the third quarter of Game 5 with a knee injury. Bogut did not return to the game and underwent an MRI exam that revealed bone bruises that will force him out for the rest of the Finals but will not require surgery. The Warriors could make up for the loss with a little help on the offensive end from MVP Steph Curry, who went 8-of-21 from the field on Monday and is averaging 22.2 points on 42.4 percent shooting in the series – down from a league-best 30.1 points on 50.4 percent in the regular season.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Cleveland is trying to become the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and needs another blistering effort from Irving and James, who combined to account for 97 of the team’s 112 points in Game 5 including assists to other teammates. “Same thing,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters of the plan for Game 6 at home. “Continue to be aggressive, continue to bring physicality and continue to attack.” Cleveland got forward Kevin Love back from a concussion in Game 5 but the former All-Star was limited to two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 33 minutes.
FINALS MVP ODDS (Per Sportsbook):
* Warriors are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Cleveland.
* Warriors are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a double-digit loss at home.
* Cavaliers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Under is 7-1-1 in Warriors last nine versus Eastern Conference opponents.
* Under is 5-1 in Cavaliers last six games following a ATS win.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are giving the slight edge to the Warriors with 53 percent of wagers taking the +2.5 and Golden State. As for the total, 58 percent of bettors are on the over. Check out the complete consensus data for Game 6 here.
DANCE TEAM BATTLE: