NBA Finals Game 5 Preview: Eddie Johnson’s Three Keys

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The good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers is that Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green is suspended for tonight’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Still, the Cavaliers trail 3-1 in the best of seven series, and they’ll have to go into Oracle Arena and beat one of the best teams in NBA history to keep their Championship dreams alive.

What must Cleveland do to tonight to extend the series? We asked former NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner and current Fox Sports and SiriusXM NBA Radio analyst Eddie Johnson for three keys to tonight’s game.

Key 1 – “All In”

The first key is for the Cleveland Cavaliers just to be one. The Golden State Warriors have a model where they come together, and they believe in one another. I think the key for Cleveland is to go into a hostile environment, and as they say, be “all in.” And “all in” means everyone on their team has to play well. If you get minutes, you have to play well. In that hostile environment, you have to be led by LeBron.

While there are ways to measure chemistry and unity, they’re almost all futile, and some of them can even be considered irresponsible.

Instead, look back to last year’s Finals. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love injured, the Cavaliers didn’t have much choice but to put their faith in each other. So what did they do?

They got stuck in.

Last year Cleveland gave a desperate, gritty performance. They forced Golden State to earn every bucket and every rebound. Assuming the Cavaliers are “all in”, we’ll see something similar tonight.

Key 2 – The Other Guys

They have to get great production from their role players. Game 4’s loss was evident: you didn’t get great production from your role players and it cost you the game. J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, Channing Frye – at least two of those guys have to get double figures. If two of those guys get double figures, then I think they have an opportunity to win the game.

This is what Cleveland received from their role players in Game 4:

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.15.34 PM

As much as this game is going to be about LeBron (and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love), Cleveland have to receive something positive from the rest of their rotation. Those guys have to make the shots created for them by Cleveland’s stars.

Key 3 – Lock In Defensively

They lost Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in Game 4, and allowed them to get free, and they paid the price. They made 17 threes overall. To me, their defense has to be pristine, especially with the Warriors at home. That’s not an easy task, but if they want to get a win, and start that walk towards fame in regards to teams coming back from 3-1, those are the three things they have to do.

Not to pick on Smith, but how does this sort of thing happen?

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There are only two Splash Brothers, they shouldn’t be that difficult to identify and track. They’ve even got their names on their jerseys.

Draymond Green is, by degrees, the Warriors player who most enables Curry and Thompson to operate as unrepentant scorers. With Green suspended, Cleveland will have the flexibility needed to focus their energy on Curry and Thompson.

Will it be enough? Can Cleveland force a Game 6, or will the Warriors clinch their second straight Championship? Have your say in the comments below, or let us know on Twitter.

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