The Cavaliers forced a Game 5 in the NBA Finals with their 137-116 win over the Warriors in Game 4, and on Monday night we’ll learn whether the Cavs can get the series back to Cleveland for a Game 6 or if Golden State can win their second title in three years.
Much like a year ago, the Cavs found new life in Cleveland, but were only able to split the two games at home. The biggest positive for Cleveland coming back to Oakland is that Kyrie Irving appears fully engaged and to be playing his best — as he was for the final five games a year ago — and the rest of the team finally came alive in Game 4 to hit shots and provide Irving and LeBron James with some much needed help.
The Warriors will hope that a return to Oakland will bring back the dominance that they showed in Games 1 and 2 because the last thing Golden State wants is for the series to return to Cleveland and the ghosts of last year’s 3-1 collapse to really start up again. We won’t know until late on Monday night what the outcome of the game is, but we’re impatient. So we fired up NBA 2K17 and ran a simulation of Game 5 to get a prediction from the virtual NBA Finals.
As always, you can watch the full simulation here, but we’re going dive right into the results.
That’s a monster showing from Steph Curry, bouncing back from a rough Game 4, and Klay Thompson added 26 points of his own, but they didn’t get a lot from Kevin Durant, and the rest of the supporting cast appears to have gone missing. The Splash Brothers’ scoring performance might be enough, but it doesn’t seem too promising that the Warriors have wrapped up this series.
Big nights from Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are a good sign for the Cavs. LeBron had a fairly average game by his standards, but still a nice night. J.R. Smith showing life along with Tristan Thompson also bodes well for the Cavaliers.
And there it is: the Cavaliers have indeed forced a Game 6 back in Cleveland, and we suddenly have ourselves a series (in the virtual world). Like Game 4, Cleveland’s efficiency from three-point range and tremendous ability to march to the free-throw line proves to be the biggest difference in the game. Also of note is that the Cavs had to erase an 11-point Warriors lead in order to pull off the win.
The shot charts and heat maps for both teams are about what you would expect. The Cavs got hot from three-point range, while the Warriros put up a lot of attempts with marginal success. In the end, it’s that free throw differential that proves to be the difference as Cleveland shows once again that they weren’t lying when they said if they play their best they can beat this Warriors team at their own game.
As for the MVP honors, this one comes as little surprise.
Kyrie’s 30-point outburst earns game MVP honors as the Cavs have managed to fend off defeat one more time and live to fight another day with Game 6 back in Cleveland.