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NBA Finals Game 5: A Running Diary

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals Running Diary is back after my one game sabbatical for reasons that’ll be discussed below. If you didn’t read the diaries from Game 2 or 3, please do so. They’ve got plenty of failed predictions you can hold me to at a later date, but they were also pretty entertaining reads, too. Anyway, here’s the Game 5 entry from my NBA Finals Running Diary. Enjoy.

7:03 PM ET: The real reason for the pause in my NBA Finals Running Diary is that Matthew Dellavedova‘s stellar performance in this series had me questioning reality, as well as my mortality. I simply didn’t know how to exist in a world where Dellavedova was an integral piece of an NBA Finals title winning team.

I thought I might have been living in the Matrix or some other type of alternate reality where tiny Australian guys became the alpha dogs of the NBA. It seemed unfathomable and I was launched into a deep and dark descent into an out of body experience where the boundaries of real and fake were clouded.

Between Game 3 and Game 4, I was locked in my storage unit with hundreds of miscellaneous newspaper cutouts, photos and hours of film, a la Rust Cohle, just trying to unlock the enigma that’s Matthew Dellavedova. All of my time was dedicated to solving this mystery and I’d become severely disillusioned, and everything that I thought I knew about basketball no longer seemed valid or credible. Time is a flat circle people, that I’m certain of now.

But lucky for me, Delly came shattering back down to earth during Game 4 and my sanity and general belief in the basketball gods have been restored. I’m looking forward to Game 5, and per usual I’m sticking with the Warriors and predicting a victory tonight.

Steve Kerr‘s small ball lineup with Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green at center was so simple, yet so ingenious. A coaching maneuver that I’m sure will rival the invention of the forward pass for its place in sports history. But maybe I’m getting a bit too carried away. Sitting Andrew Bogut in favor of David Lee was also a great decision by Kerr, and we can’t dismiss that either. All of these moves completely opened up the floor for the Warriors and they were able to put pressure on the Cavs to keep up offensively.

A few thoughts on tonight before we get started:

-Couldn’t agree more with Draymond saying the Warriors would rather get beat by Mozgov then get beat by LeBron. Golden State may have got beaten up under the basket on Thursday, but they did win the game by 21 points. No one besides a small sect of Russia will remember five years from now that Timofey had a career high in that game.

-If you actually believe the Cavs should turn to Mike Miller and Shawn Marion to play major minutes and help them win, I feel bad for you. That notion is laughable and ridiculous. If you told me 10 years ago those guys would be X-factors in an NBA Finals I might be more inclined to believe you.

-“Andre Iguodala, former NBA All-Star/Gold Medalist/NBA Finals Champion/Finals MVP” has a nice ring to it.

-Eventually Steph has to go off in one of these remaining games, right? Maybe it’s tonight.

7:19 PM ET: I apologize if this diary entry started off too dark for everyone, but my current mood could best be described as morose and nihilistic. As a Sixers fan I’m in full “Joel Embiid Crisis Mode” and this will continue to be the case until any good news is released.


7:39 PM ET: LeBron said today that the Cavs aren’t going to make any changes to the starting lineup. I’m glad he and David Blatt consulted about this right before his off-the-cuff remark.

7:47 PM ET: Doug Collins keeps saying that Harrison Barnes is more comfortable playing PF, because he played better last game. But playing out of position could literally define not being comfortable. If he was more comfortable playing PF he’d be a PF, Doug.

7:52 PM ET: The Cavs are -48 with J.R. Smith on the court this series. Not a good strategy by J.R. to revert back to the New York Knick version of himself for the NBA Finals.

7:54 PM ET: This pregame show with Sage Steele, Doug Collins and Jalen Rose is so bland and boring compared to the TNT crew. It’s like the difference between listening to NPR and being front row at the Taylor Swift concert (T-Swift is so talented, I’m not ashamed to admit that either).

8:03 PM ET: Okay, this is the second time we’ve had just a guitar for the National Anthem. I don’t get it. I’m not like a big patriot and it’s really not a big deal, but this is basically like if we went to the Metallica concert and just heard the guys sing and band had no instruments. (Woah, two concert references in a row.)

8:12 PM ET: What you don’t see in all of these “Wired” segments of David Blatt’s speeches is that all of the Cavs players aren’t actually in the locker room listening.

8:14 PM ET: Cleveland has four turnovers in the first three minutes of the game. They’re on pace to turn it over 64 times. I don’t think they will … but with J.R. and Delly 30-plus is realistic.

8:16 PM ET: Warriors come out of the gate on fire and playing steady on both sides of the ball. Cavs are struggling and even early on it seems like LeBron is going to need to have a huge night for them to steal a victory. Golden State crowd is alive.

8:22 PM ET: Draymond wants all the buckets.

8:24 PM ET: Only J.R. would use two three-point makes as fuel on defense to go commit a flagrant foul.

J.R. launched at Draymond like he was Scott Cousins trying to score at home plate on Buster Posey.

8:30 PM ET: I love Draymond more than most people, but even I wouldn’t dare comparing him to Magic Johnson. That’s like if I hit a hole-in-one in golf and then went around comparing myself to Rory McIlroy.

8:35 PM ET: Any lineup combination on the Cavaliers without LeBron is like a 14-win team during the regular season.

8:40 PM ET: At the end of the first we’re all tied at 22 apiece. Golden State was in control early, and it still kind of feels that way but the score doesn’t represent that. Cleveland doing a good job of answering all of the Warriors’ punches.

8:44 PM ET: I wonder if Leandro Barbosa and Shawn Marion chat every pregame about how they were cheated out of a ring when they were in Phoenix.

8:47 PM ET: J.R. is morphing into the Human Torch right now (he’ll then turn into Captain America a few years down the road).

8:48 PM ET: No. 4 overall pick for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Who says no?

8:51 PM ET: Iggy for Finals MVP. Believe the hype.

8:56 PM ET: Chef Curry heating up. Can’t wait for that Chicken Curry in the ESPN cafeteria tomorrow.


8:57 PM ET: Matthew Dellavedova is the real-life boy who cried wolf.

9:09 PM ET: Every time Dellavedova throws a lob pass, it’s always in the worst possible spot.

I realized all of these running diaries have just become a place for me to air my grievances about Delly. I’m basically obsessed with everything he does, and I really need some type of intervention (please help).

It’s like I’m Jim Carrey in the movie “The Number 23,” where he’s obsessed with the number 23 and goes insane and stuff. Or at least I think that’s what the movie is about, I never saw it. But that’s got to be it, right?

By the way that GIF is from “Liar Liar” and not “The Number 23.” I was just testing your Jim Carrey filmography.

9:11 PM ET: The fact that there’s so much discrepancy and live debate about what a constitutes a flagrant foul is very troubling. Almost as troubling as Tom Brady getting double the suspension as Ray Rice for “probably” cheating in a football game.

9:22 PM ET: At halftime, the Warriors lead the Cavs 51-50, in what has been an incredibly entertaining two quarters of basketball. Steph has been cookin’ and LeBron almost had a triple-double in just one half. The game has been a true battle back and forth from the start, with both teams countering their opponents’ attacks.

We’re now in small ball mode and the pace of the game has been electric. We’re seeing tons of three-point attempts by both squads, and J.R. caught fire a bit and contributed some secondary scoring now that Mozgov has been relegated to the bench in favor of this small lineup. You kind of have to admire that coaching decision by David Blatt to sit Mozgov one game after scoring a career high. But it’s evident the Cavs have to play a different style and Mozgov scoring 28 points in a 21-point blowout loss doesn’t help anyone.

Also true fact: LeBron scored or assisted on 16 of the 17 first-half baskets by the Cavs. Yes, he’s that good, and his surrounding cast is that bad. I’m fully prepared for this second half to be amazing, and it seems like we’re in store for another ridiculous finish. LeBron has 20-8-8 right now, and if you told me that at the end of this game he’d have 40-20-20, I might not bet against that.

9:36 PM ET: …ball don’t lie

9:38 PM ET: LeBron trying to add rim protector to his resume to boost it for free agency this year (just kidding, I meant next year).

9:41 PM ET: Mozgov has been sent to live out the rest of his contract in Siberia.

9:48 PM ET: Don Johnson is in the building everybody. ABC planting him in attendance for a 20-second live promo is great. His new series will probably be a hit, and by hit I mean it’ll definitely get canceled after eight episodes.

“This Fall on ABC, it’s Blood & Oil. If you’re too young to have watched the original Dallas series and just didn’t feel like watching the reboot on TNT, then watch Blood & Oil.”

9:56 PM ET: I don’t think anybody in Hollywood could write a better movie script than what’s actually being played out right now.

10:08 PM ET: At the end of the third, it’s GS 73 CLE 67. This game has been so entertaining and I’ve definitely had less interesting things to say tonight compared to my other running diaries because the game is so enthralling I have little else to offer besides conveying my excitement for what’s going on. I expect this trend to continue.

Golden State has surged ahead towards the end of the quarter and they held LeBron to only four points in that third quarter. This is assuredly a recipe for success the rest of the way for Golden State. The Cavs’ role players haven’t been able to contribute and help alleviate some of the pressure off LeBron. Warriors have also tightened up their defense as well.

10:12 PM ET: Festus Ezeli vs. Timofey Mozgov. That’s an exciting arrangement of consonants.

10:14 PM ET: Mozgov was born with the sole purpose that one day he’d be humiliated and put on posters by the likes of Blake Griffin and Harrison Barnes.

10:17 PM ET: LeBron gonna LeBron. Tie ballgame.

10:21 PM ET: LeBron might have to take next season off to rest after playing in this series.

10:22 PM ET: LeBron makes 30-footers like it ain’t no thing.

10:26 PM ET: You get a three, and you get a three, and you get a three.


10:35 PM ET: Steph is just unfair when he’s on. It’s like trying to put out a fire with a box of matches.

10:39 PM ET: Hack-a-Iggy now in effect. Pretty sound strategy as he’s shooting under 50 percent from the line in the playoffs. But we’re going to dismiss that because I want him to win Finals MVP.

10:41 PM ET: Dwight and DeAndre are texting each other right now about loving this Iguodala free throw fail.

10:47 PM ET: Your MVP Steph Curry, ladies and gentleman. Dubs get the W and take a 3-2 series lead. Final score: GS 104 CLE 91.

10:53 PM ET: Warriors are now one game away from being world champions, and it’s due to Iggy and Steph Curry. Before the game I alluded to the fact that the law of averages said that Curry would eventually go off and submit an MVP performance. I didn’t know if it was going to happen tonight, but was pleasantly surprised when it did.

In the fourth quarter they withstood an assault from LeBron and took a stranglehold on the game late, then were able to pull away and make it look easy. Golden State is just starting to outclass the Eastern Conference champs, and the depth they have combined with the various amount of offensive weapons are just too much for the short-handed Cavs to deal with.

LeBron clocked in another historic performance, but his teammates are just incapable of competing with their Warriors counterparts. 40 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds for LeBron is usually a good indicator for a Cavs victory, but the surrounding cast continues to fail him. It would be miraculous at this point if a physically drained LeBron could put together two straight games in which he single-handedly outduels the Warriors.

In Game 6 I expect Golden State to close this series out. They’ve found a recipe that works and have clearly looked like the more dominant team the last two games. The Warriors have corralled LeBron while expanding their offensive game, and finally Steph Curry is on a roll, which is just more bad news for the Cavs.

It just seems like a series defeat is death and taxes for the Cavs at this point. But LeBron has proven again that he’s the best player on the planet, and I guess I wouldn’t put winning two straight out of the realm of possibility for LeBron. Although it’s highly unlikely.

11:16 PM ET: Game 5 is now in the books. We’re on to Cleveland, and I’m on to watching the Game of Thrones season finale. Valar Morghulis, everyone.

Don’t forget to submit any of your questions on the rest of the NBA Finals or upcoming off-season and draft to tfbmailbag@gmail.com

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