One of the funniest things about all the media attention and game-by-game analysis of every single
whine move that each team has made is that the outcome of the 2015 NBA Finals will really come down to just one thing: the Golden State Warriors are a better team than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the ultimate trump card in LeBron James.
It's ridiculous that we need to discuss this again but as I read what people are saying around the web it bears repeating: the reason that LeBron James is a perfectly legitimate candidate for 2015 NBA Finals MVP is that there is almost no conceivable way this series goes six games without him singlehandedly keeping the Cavs in games and winning a couple.
People will continue agonizing over whether David Blatt should trot out different lineups or run different sets to free players that might not even be in the Warriors' rotation, but what options does he really have to solve the Warriors? His best option is the most predictable option and it's the best because it manages to keep them in games despite its predictability: give the ball to LeBron and clear out.
If you're disappointed in that, might I suggest starting a #FreeShawnMarion campaign and seeing how that works for you?
Lots of people saying that if you replace LBJ with another superstar, this roster might not make the playoffs. I agree.— GSW Hoops (@gswhoops) June 16, 2015
Meanwhile, the Warriors can afford to essentially bench their entire regular season frontcourt rotation and still pull away to win games in the fourth quarter.
Anyway, Coach Nick of BballBreakdown did a fabulous job highlighting not only the toll that LeBron's 41.3% usage rate (!!!) this series is taking on him but also the futility of resting him and expecting this team to compete with a Warriors team that is deeper and better. (Sidebar: for perspective, LeBron's 41.3% usage rate is about 4% higher than Allen Iverson's usage when the Philadelphia Sixers lost to the L.A. Lakers in 2001. This is an astounding performance that we're witnessing here.) And what we're seeing as a result of LeBron carrying so much weight is that his productivity is declining by the end of games.
CLE last 13 possessions: LeBron ast LeBron LeBron ast LeBron LeBron ast LeBron LeBron ast LeBron LeBron ast LeBron ast LeBron LeBron LeBron— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 15, 2015
I totally agree with Nick that only running non-LeBron lineups for limit minutes makes it impossible for the second unit to establish any kind of rhythm, but again it's just difficult to imagine what else they can do without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love available — the Warriors are beating this short-handed team into exhaustion, as Zito Madu of SB Nation has already described quite eloquently, and there isn't exactly a magic coaching tactic that's going to overcome the challenge they're facing.
The best the Cavs can do is hope that LeBron summons some sort of super strength to carry his team to a home victory and hope they get some good luck in a road Game 7 at Oracle.
For more on Game 5, check out our storystream.