It's not over yet. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Golden State Warriors in a 112-97 win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to send the series back to Cleveland for Game 6. Now down 3-2, the Cavaliers will have a chance to force Game 7 in Cleveland on Thursday.
Both James and Kyrie were otherworldly in Game 6. James went off for 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, and Irving had 41 points on 17-of-24 shooting to keep the Cavaliers' season alive. It was the first time in Finals history that two teammates scored 40 or more points.
Klay Thompson had 37 points as he nearly led the undermanned Warriors to their second straight title -- they were without Draymond Green thanks to a one-game suspension. Stephen Curry added 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting but was far from the player he's capable of being, and it wasn't enough. They'll have another chance to close out the series in Game 6, and Green will be back.
The Warriors came out firing, jumping out to a 12-5 lead, but the Cavaliers settled down. Despite eight turnovers in the first and four made threes by the Splash Brothers, the Cavaliers were down only 32-29 after one. James had 12 points to keep the Cavaliers in it. James kept pouring it on in the second quarter as the Cavaliers took their first lead after going up 33-32, but Thompson caught fire, too. He hit six threes in the first half and had 26 points at the half. James was superb, as well -- he had 25 points and nine rebounds, and the score was tied at 61 at the half.
Irving went off in the third as James dished out six assists, and the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors by nine in the quarter to take a 93-84 lead heading into the fourth. He and James continued their dominance as the lead grew to 10 in the fourth, but the Warriors fought back and were within six with 6:39 to play.
Then Irving took over one more time -- he went on a 7-0 run to put the game away.
The Cavaliers held on down the stretch for a 15-point win as they quieted the Oakland crowd.
Here are three things we learned from the Cavaliers win:
A two-man team can beat the Warriors
James and Irving combined for 82 of the Cavaliers' 112 points. Without Green wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball, they were able to go off while shooting at percentages way up from their playoff averages. Throughout the series, the Cavaliers preached ball movement, but they didn't need it with both James and Irving playing hero ball -- the Warriors had no answer for either player. Thompson played solid man-to-man defense against Irving, but he hit everything. The same was true for James. It might not be a sustainable model -- can they shoot this well again? -- but it got the job done in Game 5.
Draymond Green was sorely missed
Simply put: The Warriors defense is just not as good without Green on the court. They no longer have the ability to switch on every pick and are not as adept to any set without their defensive anchor. Green isn't the James stopper that Andre Iguodala is, but the Warriors were lost without his ability to be everywhere and to protect the rim. The Cavaliers shot 53 percent from the field. Offensively, the Warriors couldn't go to their Death Lineup, and Curry struggled mightily without his emotional compatriot. Green will be back for Game 6, and he's going to be ready to attack.
We've got ourselves a series
Green will be back -- the Warriors have beaten the Cavaliers eight times in nine games with him on the court -- but we've got a sixth game to get ready for. Even without Green, the Cavaliers winning an elimination game on the road in Oakland is an amazing feat. Now, they're one home win away from sending this series to a seventh game. Once there, anything can happen.
The Warriors, remember, did take Game 6 in Cleveland last season, but this is a different Cavaliers team -- one that hadn't lost at home in the playoffs until Game 4. Either way, buckle up, we've got more basketball to enjoy.
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