If you had asked me, before the series started, how I expected most games to go, I would have said something along these lines:
It's a fast game where LeBron and Curry both hit a ton of tough shots, and the Cavs fight hard, but by the end of the game our depth and surprisingly-effective defense have worn them down and the last couple of minutes aren't that close.
Game 4 gave us that narrative, with the difference being Mozgov taking advantage of the Warriors small-ball lineups to become a dominant force - one, I suspect, that we haven't seen the last of. But game five felt like something of a return to form, something Warrior fans have seen time and time again this year: the game is close, and the Warriors just keep going and wear them down and wear them down and then Curry hits some daggers and it seems surprisingly easy.
The key to this series continues to be Iguodala's outstanding defense on LeBron, which resulted in the Cavs running non-attacking picks on the perimeter just to get switches. But the Warriors are so good at switching back that often that just amounted to more waste of time.
And that time is important. The 24-second clock is an under-rated aspect of the Warrior's victories this series. In their desire to slow the game down, the Cavs regularly burn off 10-14 seconds before even initiating their offense.
This is understandable, as the Cavs need to slow the game down to win and are consistently showing signs of exhaustion in fourth quarters. But it has also contributed to their abysmal outside shooting: by the time LeBron does his slow attack into the paint, if he decides to pass, the Cavs rarely have time to ping the ball around the perimeter. Instead, guys are jacking up rushed shots.
There's a reason why they're struggling from outside. It's not just a cold streak. Even when those shots are open, they're often rushed. But the Cavs are stuck between the Scylla and Charybdis here: to get into the offense quick makes for a faster game, which should exacerbate their exhaustion problems. But slowing the game down makes it even harder for them to get LeBron the help he desperately needs.
Another tactical challenge facing David Blatt is the question of Mozgov. On one hand, Mozgov has been having his way with Warriors bigs all series. On the other hand, by putting Lebron at center, Blatt can take away the Warriors help defense. Essentially: whomever Draymond is guarding becomes a perimeter player, and LeBron isos. All of a sudden Klay, Livingston, and Curry are the players in position to help, and those guys are simply not adequate help defenders when faced with a charging LeBron.
I honestly have no idea which way Blatt will go here. My guess would be that he runs Mozgov out there when LeBron sits, but the simple truth is that the big Russian will be much less effective in those situations. Mozgov has been good in this series, no doubt, but a huge part of his game has been as an outlet when the big guarding him helps on Lebron near the rim. He's been elite at finishing in those situations this series, but the Warriors will be happy to put Ezeli or Bogut (if healthy) on him more traditional post-up situations.
Curry, finally, seemed to find his range and shake Dellavedova out of his head. He's still regressed a little on his trap-breaking - it seems like he's lobbing the ball a little too far forward out of those traps, hoping his teammate will run onto it, but that's giving the Cavs more time to disrupt the pass.
That being said, if he is able to get over his dehydration symptoms, he should be confident going into Game 6. He's got to work to beat Dellavedova, but he can do it, and now both players know that.
Game 5 was also a game where we didn't feel like we saw the Warriors at their best. Missing layups may just be who David Lee is at this point, it's hard to know, but Klay missed a bunch of looks he normally puts down.
If he and Curry go off, the Warriors could win Game 6 easily. On the other hand, my big prediction for Game 6 is that Draymond and/or Iguodala get in early foul trouble (and not because they're doing anything different than they've been doing all series), which could mean that LeBron (series TS%: .484) finally has an efficient scoring night, despite his nearly unheard of usage. In that case, the Warrior sharpshooters will have to be on just to keep the game competitive.