Cleveland Cavaliers have Lots of 2015 Free Agency Decisions; Golden State just needs Green Back

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland CavaliersThe NBA Finals ended as many predicted, with a deeper, more-talented, less-injured Golden State Warriors team beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4 games to 2. The Warriors’ celebration will be long after ending the team’s 40-year championship drought. But they probably won’t be celebrating all offseason, given that they have a very good chance of reaching the 2016 NBA Finals with their returning roster. Cleveland, on the other hand, needs to consider which of their six free agents will be re-signed if they’re to reach the Finals again. That said, let’s look over the Cavs’ laundry list of tough decisions, as well as the lone major free agent that Golden State needs to worry about.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2015 Free Agency

Iman Shumpert – The 24-year-old shooting guard played well for the Cavaliers in the first three postseason series, but was stifled by the Warriors, shooting just 24.3%. Based on how things ended against Golden State, Shumpert probably won’t get the asking price he wanted going into the NBA Finals. However, that’s not to say that another team won’t offer Shumpert more money than the Cavs are willing to pay him – especially since he’s young.

jr-smith-clevelandJ.R. Smith – Smith has already indicated that he’ll probably opt out of the final year of his deal, which would pay $6.4 million. It’s unclear what kind of market there is for a soon-to-be 30-year-old shooting guard who’s extremely streaky. But it’s clear that Cleveland and LeBron want him back if he’s willing to re-sign. Smith also had a tough series against Golden State, shooting just 32.8% (29.3% from three-point), but he did help Cleveland quite a bit after coming over from New York along with Shumpert in a mid-season trade.

LeBron James – There’s not really much to discuss here because James is staying in Cleveland and will help make free agent decisions this offseason. But he will opt out of his deal and sign a one-year contract so that he can get more when the salary cap raises in the 2016-17 season.

kevin-love-staying-clevelandKevin Love – Whether or not Love will stay in Cleveland has created a media circus all year long. LeBron pushed to get Love on the team, but they didn’t really mesh well on or off the court. Some suggested that the Cavs don’t really need Love after he averaged 16.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG. But it’s pretty clear that Cleveland would have been much better off against the Warriors with an All-Star power forward who can spread the floor with his shooting ability. Love has said that he’s going to be playing for Cleveland on opening day next season, but there are lots of suitors who’ll be throwing themselves at him.

Matthew Dellavedova – The undrafted point guard was about a zero for Cleveland’s offense against the Warriors, shooting just 28.3% from the floor. But his excellent defense on Steph Curry (an unguardable player) and hustle won Cavs fans over. Dellavedova will likely be brought back if another team doesn’t offer to overpay him.

Tristan Thompson – Thompson turned down Cleveland’s four-year, $52 million deal last summer in hopes that he could do better. The gamble paid off and the Cavs need to pay Thompson if they want him back. The 24-year-old is one of the few players that held his own against Golden State in the Finals, averaging 11.6 PPG and 12.6 RPG. Plus he has the support of LeBron, who said that Thompson should “probably be a Cavalier for his whole career.” Cleveland can keep him on a one-year, $7.1 million qualifying offer for next season, but they could lock him up for years with a good deal now.

Golden State Warriors 2015 Free Agency

Draymond Green, LeBron JamesDraymond Green – Unlike Cleveland, the Warriors only have to worry about keeping Green as far as key starters go. And the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year has already indicated that he’d like to re-sign with Golden State. So it looks like the core will definitely stay intact.

Leandro Barbosa – Barbosa played some quality minutes off the bench for Golden State and averaged 5.8 PPG in the Finals. It’s unclear if he will definitely be with the Warriors next year, but re-signing him is not an absolute must.

James Michael McAdoo – McAdoo only played in 15 games for the Warriors this season, so next year definitely doesn’t hang in the balance if they don’t bring him back.

Cavs vs Warriors Game 5 Betting: Golden State has Momentum

golden-state-cleveland-game5Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 on the road, Golden State pulled out a huge 103-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. It was clear that the Warriors were the dominant team on Thursday night, as many expected them to be entering the series, and especially when Kyrie Irving went down with a broken left knee cap in Game 1. Given that Golden State now has the momentum, should we now expect them to walk away with the series, or does Cleveland stand a chance as action moves to Oracle Arena? We’ll cover this soon, but here’s a look at the Game 5 betting line:

Game Time: Sunday (June 14) at 9:00pm EST on ABC Betting Line:

Golden State -8.5 (-110)    Over 195.5 (-110)
Cleveland (-110)               Under 195.5 (-110)

Once again, Golden State is a huge favorite while playing at home. Of course, they were also -8.5 favorites in Game 2 as well and ended up losing. So this figures to be anybody’s game from both a betting line and winning standpoint. That said, let’s look at five points to consider going into Game 5 between the Cavs and Warriors.

1. Cleveland’s Unsung Heroes let them down Last Game

Cavs fans have been singing the praises of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova throughout the 2015 NBA Playoffs. But these praises were quickly quieted with Smith (2-for-12), Shumpert (2-for-9) and Dellavedova (3-for-14) all having terrible shooting nights. Smith’s play was noticeably bad when considering that his team was outscored by 27 points with him on the floor. Game 5 presents another chance for these guys to redeem themselves, but can they do it?

2. Don’t let the Warriors get ahead

golden-state-cleveland-game-5Stats favor the Warriors greatly when they build a lead. They are 57-0 when pulling ahead by 15 points or more this season. And they are 69-3 when leading after three quarters. One more interesting number is that Golden State is just the sixth team to win a NBA Finals road game by 20 points or more. Throw in the fact that the Warriors were 39-2 in Oracle Arena during the regular season and you have the numbers all favoring the team from the Bay Area.

3. Golden State cut their Rotation, and it worked to Perfection

Much has been made about how thin the Cavaliers are due to injuries. But one should also note that Steve Kerr has cut the Warriors rotation considerably too. In Game 4, they really only played seven players, who all fit into their versatile small ball lineup. The starters all played at least 32 minutes each, while Shaun Livingston and David Lee logged 24 and 15 minutes respectively off the bench. Given the success of this lineup, don’t be surprised to see this combination again.

4. Cleveland played about as Badly as Possible

cavs-vs-warriorsWith what we’ve seen from the Cavs through the first three games, it’s clear that they played about as poorly as they possibly could have last game. Even LeBron James was a dismal 7-for-22 from the field and 5-of-10 from the free throw line. As a team, they shot just 33% from the field and 14.8% from the three-point line. Obviously LeBron is playing with a limited lineup, thanks to injuries to Irving and Kevin Love, but what was seen in Game 4 was just ridiculously bad.

5. The Cavs may not be as Lost as you think

Looking at everything we’ve discussed, it doesn’t seem like Cleveland has much of a chance to win at Golden State. But then again, they weren’t given much of a postseason chance when Love went down, and they definitely weren’t favored to win with the loss of Irving. And here’s a little something else to consider: Cleveland has held opponents to just 40.4% shooting and 25.6% from beyond the arc away from home. Sure, Golden State isn’t just any team; but they also suffered against Cleveland’s D in Game 2, shooting 39.8% from the field and 22.9% from the three-point line. So it’s not entirely possible that Game 5 could feature a rejuvenated Cleveland team winning after a two-day rest.

Final Score Prediction: Cleveland 98 – Golden State 94