Darío Vázquez, resident expert
The Golden State Warriors will be at home tonight for a chance to clinch the title but they will have to do it without arguably the most important piece of their so successful small ball lineup. Draymond Green was suspended for an altercation with LeBron James in game 4. I believe the suspension was completely unnecessary but it is what it is and what’s next is see how the Warriors make up for his absence.
The Warriors do not have another player who can replicate Green’s production, but they do have a deep bench who can collectively do what he does. We can assume Kerr will likely start Iguodala who has been the best option to slow down James. Now that means another player will have to step up off the bench to make up for Iguodala off the pine. Players like Mo Speights or the surprisingly James Michael Mcadoo will probably take turns on Iguodala’s spot on the bench’s frontcourt.
While everybody pretty much agrees that both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will have to come up big for the Warriors to have a chance, I believe the one player who must have a big game is Harrison Barnes. The Warriors must go collectively at the boards to make up for Green’s aggressive rebounding but Barnes specifically needs to crash to the boards every possession and help prevent Cleveland from having second chances. He also needs to knock down the open shots. The Warriors must rely on Curry to be the primary playmaker and look to create for others driving to the basket since it’s going to be hard for them to play off screens without Green. If Cleveland relies on double teaming Curry or Klay, it’s on Barnes to hit those open shots he might get.
Will the suspension serve as fuel for the Warriors to end the series or will the Cavaliers make the most out of the opportunity and keep their championship hopes alive? Both teams know each other well and what they bring to the table. This game is just a matter of who wants it the most. We will find out tonight.
Christian Fuentes, sports journalist for Metro Puerto Rico
Well, the Golden State Warriors were dealt a low blow (pun intended) for Game 5: No Draymond Green. Now they play without the heart and soul of the group. Advantage: Cleveland. However, they are at Oracle and the home court advantage will likely lift the Warriors.
Steve Kerr has a few options on this very deep Warriors roster to choose from. The likeliest scenario is starting Andre Iguodala. They won’t be able to play their small ball and if they go big, it certainly favors the Cavs. Kerr is going to have to kick the tires on several different mixes to see what works. We’ll definitely see more of Marreese Speights on the floor, because he is the big man left who can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot from the outside.
Another factor is that for the first time (really) in this series, Stephen Curry will have to take over the majority of the ball handling. He usually gets the ball past midcourt and do his thing. It seems as though this game might be the one where we see more of Curry bringing the ball up. Needless to say, Curry and Klay Thompson will have to go at least 25+ in this contest. The bench would need to impose their will like they have during the series to make up for the lost production of Green.
I won’t go into prediction. Part me thinks that just opening the door, even a little bit, to LeBron James (which it is) would be fatal for Golden State. We all know that James will mash it down, given the chance. However, a prevailing part of me believes that this suspension of Green will light a fire under the Warriors, particularly Curry and Thompson, who finally broke through with big individual performances in Game 4. The energy of the crowd and the “Us vs. The NBA” mentality (rightfully so) might be to the Warriors advantage to close it out in five and not have to catch a plane to the Land.