Cavs vs. Warriors NBA Finals predictions: Time for Golden State to worry?

So you're telling me there's a chance.

The Cavaliers staved off elimination with a 137-116 Game 4 win on Friday, preventing the Warriors from finishing the postseason undefeated and winning their second NBA title in three years.

Instead the series will shift back to Oakland for Game 5, as the Warriors once again hold a dreaded 3-1 lead.

Here's what you need to know for Monday:

  • NBA Finals, Game 5 
  • Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
  • When: Monday, 9 p.m. ET 
  • Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
  • TV: ABC

How do our experts see the series going? The Warriors, as most would expect, opened as the favorite in Vegas. But more importantly, our predictions are below:

Bill Reiter: Warriors in 7

The back-and-forth series is punctuated by LeBron James again rising to another level with a championship on the line, and Curry asserting himself and looking again like a unanimous MVP comes down to the final game. This time, the Warriors win at home at Oracle and the confetti falls for them and their revenge tour.

Ethan Skolnick: Warriors in 7

This feels like a sucker pick, since LeBron James tends to make any doubters look silly. But, while James will be spectacular, and while we saw he can steal a seventh game at Oracle, that home court edge has to count for something at some point. This time, the fortified Warriors, with lessons learned from their sloppy finish, close stronger. 

James Herbert: Warriors in 6

I would have picked the Warriors in five before the playoffs started, but the Cavs' run through the East makes that seem disrespectful. Golden State still deserves to be the favorite, but the brilliance of LeBron James coupled with Cleveland's improved defensive focus can't be dismissed. If the Warriors can't create separation early in games, then they could wind up in close contests that are determined by who executes best down the stretch. James and Kyrie Irving are terrifying in those situations, which makes me think the Cavaliers have a chance to challenge the team that has perhaps the greatest collection of talent the league has ever seen.

Matt Moore: Warriors in 6

I've thought Warriors in five all year, just like James, but LeBron's just on another level. However, this year, when the Warriors have a chance to close the door in Cleveland and give them the heartache the Cavs gave them last year, securing two titles on Cleveland's home floor, they'll slam it shut. Durant's just too much, he's just really such a great player and when you add him to this team, there's just too much there for the Cavs to handle. The Warriors will overwhelm them with talent, will stay focused, will find enough offensive answers to outlast LeBron James, and secure their second title in three years, ending the 3-1 jokes and establishing something that very much resembles a dynasty. And THEN they will lock up Kevin Durant and Steph Curry to long-term deals together. 

Chris Barnewall: Warriors in 7 

I was so close to picking Cleveland. So very close. LeBron James is playing on a level that is insane even by his standards. He's not just the best player in the NBA; nobody is better than him at raising an entire team up by himself. Golden State is missing its coach. Tyronn Lue is sneakily one of the best matchup coaches in the NBA. Every year Cleveland has been doubted and every year they take the series long, and yet it just feels impossible to pick against the Warriors. They had the best offense all season. Their defense has been incredible all season. They've just been more consistent and they added Kevin freakin' Durant. Don't be surprised if Cleveland takes this the distance again, but Golden State just has too much incredible talent on its roster. 

Jack Maloney: Warriors in 5

This was my pick before the playoffs started, and I'm sticking with it. Last year's meeting between these two probably would have ended in five games if a certain...um...incident hadn't happened, and now the Warriors have Kevin Durant. I'd be lying if I said I don't feel a little bit nervous picking against LeBron James, but I just think the Warriors have too much talent.  

Brad Botkin: Cavs in 7

Well, I guess I'm the only one with some guts here. For some reason, people just keep doubting the best player ever. And yes, LeBron James is the best player ever. More importantly, I think he'll play like it from the start this year (or at least he better), whereas last year he waited until the Cavs' backs were against the wall to really put his foot on the gas. The Warriors are stacked, no doubt. They have four All-Star level players. But the Cavs have three. Don't forget that. They are stacked in their own right, and somehow, even after what they did last year, they're being disrespected again. You can call up all the advanced stats you want, but basketball, when you really get down to to it, particularly in playoff situations that often come down to winning a few crucial possessions, tends to be pretty simple: Best player wins. Give me LeBron in another epic series. 

Finals schedule

All Games on ABC, times ET

  • THU, June 1 -- Game 1: at Golden State, 9 p.m. 
  • SUN, June 4 -- Game 2: at Golden State, 8 p.m. 
  • WED, June 7 -- Game 3: at Cleveland, 9 p.m. 
  • FRI, June 9 -- Game 4: at Cleveland, 9 p.m. 
  • MON, June 12 -- Game 5: at Golden State, 9 p.m.
  • THU, June 15 -- Game 6: at Cleveland, 9 p.m.* 
  • SUN, June 18 -- Game 7: at Golden State, 8 p.m.

* -- if necessary

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