Thursday, June 16, 2016

Can the Cavs tie this series and force Game 7?

Needless to say, we Cleveland Cavaliers fans want them to tie the NBA Finals tonight to force a Game 7.

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As I've been telling my co-workers, the Cavs have to take it one game at a time. When they were down 2-0, the players and coaching staff didn't need to think about winning four out of the next five games. Instead, the mindset needed to be to win it one game at a time. So far, that seems to have worked.

The Cavs responded in a big way in Game 5 with a 112-97 win.

The trick is can they do it again -- especially with Golden State's best defender Draymond Green back on the court tonight.

Of course, Cavs Nation wants a win; that would force Game 7. And that would increase our already minuscule chances of winning the championship.

Better yet in some ways, winning tonight would keep the Warriors from celebrating their second NBA title at the Q. Again. No Cleveland fan wants that.

So what will it take to get a win?

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• Again, keep Draymond Green in check. He's going to make plays; like with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, he will get some points. But the Cavs are up to the challenge of putting great D on Green.

• Speaking of defense, the Cavs need to play great D. That especially means not letting any of the Warriors get open looks at the basket, whether it's in the paint or from three-point land.

The three losses in the Finals can be tied to Golden State finding those open spots on the floor and/or one of the Cavs not defending close enough. (This essentially is a repeat of what I said in my "Where is the fire in your belly?" post after Game 2.)

• LeBron James needs to have another big game. This sounds like a Captain Obvious statement, but it's easy to see the trend that Cleveland has beaten Golden State when the big man has come up big in the Finals. The Cavs play better and more aggressively when James is hitting shots and taking it to the basket.

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Get you 25 to 30-plus points, LeBron. It's not fair to expect another 41-point game from James like he had in Game 5. But it is fair -- and expected -- for the Cavs' best player to play the best. The great ones excel at crunch time.

• Kyrie Irving, do your thing. Irving is going to shoot -- because that's what he does. Like LeBron, he needs to have another big game. (Again a 41-point encore is improbable, but still ...!) Attack the basket, shake and bake and shoot the ball, Kryie. That is your game, but don't try to do it on your own. But don't forget to play defense.

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• Play like there's no tomorrow. Because there isn't. If the Cavs lose tonight, they're done, the NBA Finals is over and the championship again will go to the Warriors. This isn't Game 7, but it is an elimination game for the Cavs. So Game 6 might as well be Game 7.

• J.R. Smith, find that sweet spot from three-point land. The Cavs can't rely on the three-pointer, but they sure need their scorers to score. And Smith, if your shot isn't coming right off, don't give up on it. As counterintuitive as it sounds, the only way for shooters to find their shot is to keep shooting.

And yes, I've been on J.R. Smith's case since after Game 1. He's essential to "what do the Cavs need to do to beat the Warriors." Smith needs to continue to assert himself, get some three's and keep Golden State honest by putting the ball on the floor every once in a while.

• Kevin Love needs to contribute. Love needs to score points and bang bodies -- whether it's off the bench or from the tipoff. Another two-point game is unacceptable.

And finally, the bench players need to play aggressively when they're on the floor. LeBron, Kyrie and J.R. can't do it on their own. Tonight needs to be a team effort with intensity, good D and great shooting from everyone.

Now say it with me, fans: "Let's go Cavs! ... Let's go Cavs! ..."

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