With their backs against the wall, the Cavaliers pulled out an impressive victory behind a legendary performance from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
After a few minutes, game 5 seemed like it would be another classic Warriors win and another bizarre Cleveland no-show.
Things aren’t always as they seem.
The Cavaliers turned the ball over four times in the first 3:30 of the game and both Curry and Thompson hit threes early. However, the Cavaliers were not willing to sit back and let their season end.
Cleveland got the Warriors in foul trouble in the first quarter and it allowed them to stay close. The Cavs trailed 32-29 after one, but it felt like Golden State could blow it open at any moment.
Starting the 2nd, however, Cleveland went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Right around that time, Klay Thompson went off. Thompson had 15 in a 4:00 stretch in the 2nd quarter. But once again, the Cavaliers hung around. He ended the half with 26 on 8-12 shooting – a clinic in getting off long threes.
Kyrie Iriving had a huge 2nd quarter, knocking down jumper after jumper and gathering a couple of steals on defense. Kyrie ended the half with 18 points on 8-10 shooting and the Cavaliers – against what seemed inevitable – tied the game by halftime, 61-61.
The 3rd quarter continued the trend – but this time it was Cleveland who delivered the punches and Golden State wouldn’t let them run away. Kyrie Irving continued to hit threes and the Cavs led by as many as 11 in the quarter. On multiple occasions, however, the Warriors would bring it tight again.
After shooting 46% from the floor in the first half, Golden State’s overall shooting percentage dropped to 40% after a poor 3rd quarter. They scored 23 in the quarter, so it wasn’t all bad, but the Cavaliers took a 9 point lead into the 4th, 93-84. Irving got a brief rest late in the 3rd, but James didn’t get a rest until the early 4th.
The King and Ky were just too much to handle. Golden State pulled their starters with 2:00 left in the game as Irving and James each cleared 40 points in the game – the first time in NBA history that teammates have ever scored 40 in a game.
While Irving (41 points, 17-24 shooting, 5-7 from deep) and James (41 points, 16-30, 4-8 from deep) were going off in the 2nd half, Golden State went the other way. The Warriors were 3-21 from beyond the arc in the 2nd half after going 11-21 from three in the first half. Golden State shot 27% overall in the 2nd half, scoring 36 in the second half after putting up 61 in the first.
The Draymond Green story was big, and we’ll see how big on Thursday, as the Cavaliers will host game 6 – another elimination game. Cleveland took game five 112-97.