WITH the score standing at 2-2, the ongoing NBA Championship between Cleveland and Golden State has been reduced to a best-of-three series.

Meaning, every game beginning on Monday is crucial. Each of the remaining three matches is what you now call a must-win, a no-more-tomorrow duel.

To be honest, I consider Game 5 as virtually the title showdown itself as the winner here carries a formidable 3-2 edge going to Game 6.

It means, quite simply, that the team up 3-2 is just a win away from the 2015 NBA title. And it has two tremendous chances to nail it.

In short, the one waving a 3-2 bubble has the door ajar in front of it. No I.D. required for entry, only a win.

And that 3-2 deficit to the beleaguered squad would see its one foot tossed into the grave. It needs two monumental wins to get past the gates of hell.

Why Cleveland had fallen into a 2-2 tie with Cleveland is not that difficult to analyze.

After grabbing a hot 7-0 start, the Cavs got overrun by the Warriors’ running game behind a stunning sudden shift from big men to small men by Golden State coach Steve Kerr.

To this, Cleveland coach David Blatt had no answer.

After securing a 31-24 first quarter lead, Golden State’s momentum mangled Cleveland’s offense all the more, limiting the Cavs to just 18 second-quarter points to head into the locker room flashing a 54-42 bulge.

Now, look at this: Cleveland’s cause got derailed somewhat when LeBron James suffered a head wound in the second quarter after losing his balance and ramming into a camera following a baseline drive.

Although James fired 10 of Cleveland’s 28-point third quarter comeback to cut Golden State’s deficit to 76-72, it seemed that the greatest player of his era was still feeling the effects of that head wound.

He missed all his shots in the fourth quarter, finishing with only 20 points in a far cry from his 44-39-40 earlier on a lethargic 7-of-22 Game 4 shooting.

With James’ guns getting jammed—no, Andre Iguodala’s guarding wasn’t the main key—Cleveland could only produce 12 fourth-quarter points.

I repeat my pre-Finals forecast: Despite being a bit undermanned, Cleveland might still pull off an upset.

But first, let’s make sure James is 100 percent healthy.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)