OAKLAND—The Cleveland Cavaliers avoided elimination in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, downing the Golden State Warriors, 112-97 behind a historic performance from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The duo both scored 41 points; an NBA Finals record for combined points by teammates in arguably the most hostile envoirnment in the NBA Oracle Arena.
The series is 3-2 in favor of Golden State, exactly the same circumstances as last years finals, the Warriors will have another crack at winning the title on Thursday night in Cleveland.
The main storyline going into Game 5 (besides Dub nation capturing the title) was the suspension of Draymond Green for his actions during Game 4. His swipe at LeBron’s groin during their heated confrontation was the last straw in the eyes of the league. The common foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, resulting in an automatic 1 game suspension.
Draymond is the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors, and his fiery personality, not to mention his presence on the floor was sorely missed. His replacement Harrison Barnes was not prepared for LeBron & Co.
LeBron is under mounting pressure as his leadership, toughness and even his legacy was being called into question. With his stellar performance, he silenced the naysayers with every trick in the book. From his three-pointers to his monster jams, it will go down as a career defining moment, alongside his marvelous 2012 Eastern Conference finals outing against the Boston Celtics, or the time he singlehandedly beat the Detroit Pistons in 2007.
As for Kyrie, its his third straight game of 30 plus points in the 2016 NBA Finals. If Cleveland were to overcome the odds, which no team has ever done, Kyrie Irving will be Finals MVP. His defense on Steph Curry has been phenomenal. His shooting is impeccable, he is flat out great.
The Warriors wanted to win this one for Draymond, but their defense was lackadaisical and Curry fell back down to earth. He missed several open shots, Klay Thompson had an excellent game with 37 points. However, only 11 of those points came in the second half, and he only attempted two field goals in the fourth.
Game 6 is Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena, 9:00 p.m. EST on ABC.