Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors (-5.5, 204.5 o/u)
The 2016 NBA Finals took an unexpected turn in Game 4 when Golden State forward Draymond Green picked up a flagrant one. The versatile star is now suspended for tonight’s Game 5, but the Warriors (15-6 SU, 14-7 ATS) will still be hoping to clinch their second straight title when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-5 SU, 9-9 ATS) at ORACLE Arena (9:00 PM Eastern).
Green’s flagrant foul was assessed after an altercation with Lebron James. When the flagrant nature of the foul was confirmed, the league had no wiggle room; the volatile forward has now accumulated four flagrant foul points over the course of the playoffs, mandating a one-game suspension per league rules.
When the suspension was announced, the Warriors went from 7.5-point favorites to 5.5.
There’s reason to believe that Green’s absence could have an even bigger impact than that. The team has +153 point-differential in these playoffs when Green is on the floor; they’re -15 without him. When he sat out against Denver in the regular season, they suffered a surprise setback to the lowly Nuggets, despite Steph Curry scoring 38 points on that night.
The Warriors won’t be facing a middling Denver team tonight, either. They’ll be up against a desperate Cleveland side that needs to win just to keep the season alive.
Expect James to be more aggressive in attacking the rim without Green’s defense in the game. The Cavs let Game 4 slip away by getting passive in the fourth quarter. They went an entire seven minutes without scoring during the 108-97 loss. Green or no Green, they can’t expect to leave Oracle with a win if they suffer any similar cold-spells tonight. While Draymond is a huge part of the Warriors’ success, so is home court. They’ve lost just three games at Oracle all year.
Take Cleveland with the points, but expect a close Warriors win.
Picks: Warriors (straight-up); Cleveland (+5.5).
(Photo Credit: Rose White, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)