The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the brink of elimination going into Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
The Golden State Warriors made the adjustment to playing “small ball” in order to speed up the pace against the bigger Cleveland Cavaliers, and the result is that the Warriors were able to snatch Games 4 & 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
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Stephen Curry has been able to find his shooting stroke in the last three games hitting 18 of 33 three-pointers and is coming off of a 37-point outburst. Curry is averaging 26.6 points on 44% from the field and 41% from three-point.
The other “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson has averaged 18.0 points per contest on 40% shooting from the floor.
A big reason why Thompson’s impact has not been truly felt in this series outside of the 34-point explosion that he had in Game 3 is because of the defensive job that Cavs guard Iman Shumpert has done on him in this series.
Shumpert has been able to play solid defense on Thompson despite playing with a groin injury and a bad shoulder.
However, Shumpert on the offensive end has been horrid averaging 6.2 points per contest in the Finals on 34.3% shooting.
The excuse could be made that his work on defense having to keep Klay Thompson in check is happening at the expense of his offense. The only problem with that train of thought is Shumpert is only asked to hit spot up jumpers and finish at the rim on the break.
Shooting 34.3% when you are not a volume shooter is horrible.
June 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) moves the ball against ahead of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) in the second half in game five of the NBA Finals. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
So it is obvious what Iman Shumpert needs to do in order to make a major contribution to the Cavaliers Game 6 cause — make a stinking bucket or five !
The Cavaliers for the most part have been able to dictate the pace.
Though a mistake was made strategically in Game 4 with the Cavs deciding to go small which allowed the Warriors to run their offense comfortably, the Cavs were still in the game late before the Warriors pulled away.
LeBron James has put up ridiculous numbers in order to give the Cavaliers a chance to win games this series averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists.
With LeBron doing all that, he still needs some kind of support from his role players.
J.R. Smith has been erratic at best, and “Delly Fever” has been cooled down.
For the Cavaliers to win Game 6, not only will the Cavs need to dictate the tone of the game defensively while imposing their pace, but they will also need for Shumpert to get out of his offensive funk along with other supporting cast members.
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Tonight for the Cleveland Cavaliers is do or die. No one is going to care that Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were out for the Finals.
People will simply see how “TheBest Player In The World” LeBron James did not have help from a capable supporting cast that included a former “Sixth-Man of the Year” and a decisive size advantage.
Iman Shumpert does not want to be known as the player who came up small on the biggest stage. He is in serious danger of having that label in spite of his defensive exploits.
Injuries and fatigue are not an excuse at this stage, Shumpert simply needs to dig deep and find his shot.