Warriors' Green given flagrant 1, out for Game 5
The Golden State Warriors, who made history with a 73-win regular season, can become the seventh franchise to win consecutive NBA titles with a victory in Game 5 on Monday night.
Golden State can close out the Cleveland Cavaliers on their home court at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors are 50-3 this season.
The Warriors will have to do it without power forward Draymond Green, who is suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals after he was assessed a flagrant foul 1 by the league for his actions against Cavaliers forward LeBron James in Game 4 on Friday night.
Stephen Curry found his long-range touch and scored 38 points as the Warriors rebounded from a 30-point loss by beating the Cavs 108-97 in Game 4 and taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
The win put the Warriors on the brink of back-to-back championships. But they will search for the clinching victory without one of their top players.
"Yeah, we're going to come out aggressive and confident, just like we would if Draymond was playing," Curry said at Sunday's press conference. "We understand what we're playing for, and that's all that matters. So we hope to have a great night, take care of the details of the game. Individual guys step up and play pretty special and have special efforts and come out with a win."
Cavaliers coach Tryonn Lue doesn't see Green's absence as being a deciding factor.
"He's the heart and soul of their team, but we've still got to play," Lue said on Sunday. "His suspension doesn't make us win the game. We've got to go out and win the game and take the game. So it's a big suspension on their end, but we've still got to play."
Golden State set an NBA Finals record with 17 3-pointers on Friday night, outscoring the Cavs by 33 points from beyond the arc.
Curry's Splash Brother teammate, Klay Thompson, added 25 points. Curry and Thompson combined for 11 of the team's 3s in the game.
The Larry O'Brien Trophy was flown cross-country to Oakland on Saturday to be handed out if the Warriors win.
"If you don't get up for that, there's something wrong with you," Thompson said. "We can't wait to get to Oracle on Monday. I've been fortunate to play there for five years and we really do have the best fans in the league. They probably won't have ever seemed as excited before as when we get to Monday."
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has told his players that Monday night's clinching-potential game will not be an easy task. He says there is no further motivation needed.
"I just think that it's the NBA Finals," Kerr said Sunday. "We're at home. We have a chance to close things out. I don't think we need any more of an edge, any more psychological advantage, anything like that.
"The game gives us all the motivation we need, and the biggest thing for us is to just tweak things a little bit here and there to try to get the right rotations on the floor at the right time. And because of our versatility, I feel like we'll be able to do that."
The Cavaliers will have to overcome huge odds to win the next three games. Only 10 teams in NBA history have rallied from 3-1 down in the playoffs and no team has won the championship after falling behind 3-1 in the Finals.
"We've already got to take a flight home back anyways, so we might as well come home with a win and play on our home floor again," James said of Monday's game. "Being a confident bunch, we feel like the chips have been stacked up against us all year anyway."
Lue offered similar sentiments about his team's chances to get a Game 6 in Cleveland.
"Just win one game. Bring everything we've got to win one game," Lue said Sunday. "I told the guys when we left -- we have to come back to Cleveland anyways, so why not come back and play a game. So we've got to give everything we've got. Our backs are against the wall, so we've got to be prepared to win just one game."