OAKLAND -- After winning Games 1 and 2 in Oakland and splitting Games 3 and 4 in Cleveland, the Warriors return Monday to the warm confines of Oracle Arena for Game 5 and a chance to close out the Cavaliers and win the NBA Finals.
Or as Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday: “We’re right where we want to be.”
It’s also where the Warriors were last June, returning home up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. They lost that Game 5 but didn’t have two men they will have this time: Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
Will that be enough to hold off a Cavaliers team that gave itself a jolt of confidence with a blowout win in Game 4 and allow the Warriors to become the first Bay Area team to win a championship at home since the 1974 Oakland A’s?
Warriors by 8.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving: Curry decisively won the first two rounds, narrowly won the third and was clobbered in the fourth -- the only Warriors loss. If Curry reverts to form and Irving stays hot, this can be a duel of epic proportions. If Curry catches fire -- he hasn’t had a truly hot game all series -- it won’t matter what Irving does against the defense of Klay Thompson and anyone else.
Warriors: No injuries listed.
Cavaliers: No injuries listed.
Danny Crawford (crew chief), Ed Malloy, Derrick Stafford. Replay center: Zach Zarba.
ROAD TO THE FINALS
Warriors: Posted a 67-15 record in the regular season to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Swept Portland in four games in the first round, swept Utah in four in the Western Conference semifinals and swept San Antonio in four in the conference finals.
Cavs: Were 51-31 in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Swept Indiana in four games in the first round, swept Toronto in four in the conference semifinals, defeated Boston in five games in the conference finals.
Game 1: Warriors 113, Cavaliers 91
Game 2: Warriors 132, Cavaliers 113
Game 3: Warriors 118, Cavaliers 113
Game 4: Cavaliers 137, Warriors 116
The teams split two games in the regular season, the Cavs with a 109-108 victory on Christmas Day in Cleveland, the Warriors a 126-91 win on Jan. 16 in Oakland. The Warriors are 12-8 against the Cavs over the past three seasons, including 8-6 in the postseason.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
KD vs. LeBron: The superstar forwards have thus far offset each other, with Durant generally being better when it has mattered most. They’ll see plenty of each other once again. Expect both to be aggressive. The man who is most efficient gives his team a decided advantage.
Oracle and the first 12: If the Warriors bring the mentality exhibited in closeout games in previous series, it could put Cleveland in a hole. Only one team has a comeback win in this series, the Warriors in Game 3. If they start fast at Oracle and crank up the crowd, it will be a lot to ask of the Cavaliers generate enough offense for to overtake the home team.
The turnover game: The Warriors committed four turnovers, giving away 6 points, in an impressive Game 1. They’ve since averaged committed 50 (16.7 per game), for 63 (21 per game) Cavs’ points. If they continue down this road, they very easily could find themselves going back to Cleveland.