When the postscript on the Golden State Warriors' now inevitable NBA crowning is written — and trust me, it took a little longer than I thought it would, but it is happening — the biggest theme woven into the tapestry of their title run will be the versatility of this group.
In the first round, they harassed and badgered Anthony Davis enough to sweep a pesky group of New Orleans Pelicans. In the second round, they were able to get into the muck, get dirty, expose Tony allen offensively, and come back from down 2-1 to beat Memphis. In the Western Conference Finals, they ran Steph Curry like a mad man around the perimeter offensively off screens, pick and rolls, and beat the Rockets.
Finally, in these NBA Finals, the signature move was Steve Kerr's essentially benching anyone over six-foot-ten and going small virtually the entire time. The small lineup for the Warriors has run the Cavs shallow rotation into the ground. The Cavs' trainer may as well count as one of the guys in their eight man rotation, with as many IV's and cramp massages as the team has undergone since Game 3. Put it this way — David Lee was third team All-NBA not all that long ago. He gets like 15 minutes and was DNP the first three games of the series.
The Cavaliers, sans Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, well, they start Matthew Dellavedova. James Jones and Mike Miller played 32 minutes combined last night. And hell, Cleveland almost won!
As it went down, Golden State pulled away late to win at home in Game 5 by a score of 104-91, and they now stand one win away from an NBA title. Let's look at winners and loser from last night's game….
4. Steph Curry
This has been a weird series for Steph Curry. Early on it looked like either Cleveland had kind of solved him, or that he had something else going on off the court. The 5-23 night in Game 2 was just bizarre. But in the last two games, he's got his groove back, and last night was vintage Curry, with a super efficient 13-23 from the floor (7-13 from three) and a +24 rating. As bad as he played in the first three games of the series, Steph is probably one 40 point clinching win from being the Finals MVP. And we like him hitting big shots, because happy Steph means….
3. Male America
That's a grandmother right there, America.
You know who's really interested in these NBA Finals? People with television sets. Every passing game seems to pull a higher and higher rating. On Thursday, Game 4 reportedly pulled a 13.9 rating, on a great TV watching night on Thursday. On Sunday, with competition from the Game of Thrones season finale and a WWE pay per view (that was the competition in my house, at least), here's how Game 5 did….
People like basketball, people adore Steph Curry, people are infatuated with LeBron James. (And certain states in our country really like his penis, more on this in a moment…)
Source says the NBA Finals overnight rating is in the neighborhood of a 14.2. (It's hard to be exact because of various start/end times).— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) June 15, 2015
1. LeBron James
I said after Game 2 that LeBron should have a decent look at the MVP of the series even if the Cavaliers lose, and I think if the series goes seven games (which means at least one more monster LeBron game in Game 6), barring a John Starks-like clunker from the King or a Steph 50 point Valyrian sword in Game 7, he should win the award. How do you give it to anyone else? LeBron will have taken a team where literally every other rotation player (except James Jones) played on a lottery team last season and brought them to the brink of the greatest basketball title in the world. Sadly, we will likely never see "volume shooting LeBron" ever again. This is a condition thrust upon him by the injuries to Irving and Love.
4. Matthew Dellavedova
Poor Delly. Two games ago, he had 20 points, was locking up Steph Curry, and had the hottest selling jersey in greater Ohio. Two games later, he's getting massages on the bench for cramps, shooting 2-9 from the field, and well, this….
3. Dave Blatt
Poor Blatt. (Yes, everyone other than LeBron, gets a "Poor _____" after losses.) When the Cavs win, it's LeBron's greatness. When the Cavs lose, it's "Why the hell did you only play Mozgov for nine minutes?" or "Why did you leave your starters in so long?" When the Cavs lose, the spotlight shines hard on all of the non-LeBronian things happening, and Blatt takes the brunt of it. For what it's worth, it appears to be wearing on him a little bit.
2. The state of Ohio
So there was a brief moment during the pregame of Game 4 where the cameras caught LeBron adjusting his shorts and his sports undergarment, and for one one-thousandth of a second, you could see LeBron's unit. It's honestly something that's only news in this millennium because a) DVR allows pervs to Zapruder the sequence and locate the exact moment of exposure and b) social media allows for a forum to then place the still shot. Apparently, though, not everyone caught it the first time, so people Googled looking for it. Hilariously, Clay Travis of FOX went and did the analytics on the searches for "Lebron dick". It turns out, not shockingly, Ohio was most interested. (In case you're wondering, Texas finished seventh, buoyed by my 610 colleague Nick Wright's searching it roughly 10,000 times in the 2 hours after the game was over, no doubt.)
1. J.R. Smith
How bad has Smith been? He was 5-15 on Sunday (4-14 from three point range) and it felt like he had a phenomenal game. He's been the worst player in this series, and it's not even close.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.