Cleveland’s Stars Thrive, Survive To See Game Six
Draymond Green watched the Warriors lose Game Five from a baseball stadium, next door at the Oakland A’s facility. He wasn’t allowed on the floor in Oracle Arena to stop the Cavs, and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving doused the court in gasoline and flipped the match.
Irving was spectacular (41 points, 17-24 FG), dancing around defenders and splashing shots in the Splash Brothers’ own pond. LeBron turned on Terminator Mode, attacking the rim for 41 points and 16 rebounds in the 112-97 win.
It was the first time two players on the same team topped 40 points in NBA Finals history, and it meant LeBron got to enjoy a win with Draymond Green in an entirely different building.
“The only things that matter are what happen between these four lines,” James said in a diplomatic fashion. “Our guys understood that this was the final countdown, and we had to come out and stay focused, mentally focused, mentally sharp…we’re just happy we got another day. That’s all we can ask for.”
LeBron deflected the question about Draymond Green’s suspension, but Cavs Head Coach Ty Lue talked about the impact at length.
“He’s their best defender, and I’ve said it all along that he is the best guy in the NBA as far as reading when to help, triple switches and getting guys out of mismatches, knowing when to go and not to go, he’s an underrated shot blocker, and he can guard one through five, so that definitely hurt their defense,” Lue said before reiterating he was just proud of his guys’ effort.
Without Green leading the defense, LeBron and the Cavs shot the lights out (44-83 FG, 53%).
Green wasn’t the only big man Golden State had to go without. Andrew Bogut suffered a right knee injury in the second half and had to leave the court, which led to some interesting mismatches for Cleveland to exploit.
Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr wasn’t giving any responses about Green after the game, but he did admit the team will miss Bogut moving forward.
“We played four or five different people at center, just trying to find somebody that would work,” Kerr said. “It’s unfortunate. Hopefully, he’s OK. We need him.”
James McAdoo tried to hold down the fort in the paint, but Tristan Thompson (15 rebounds) and LeBron ate up the glass and Golden State ended up allowing attempts at the rim.
Kevin Love was non-existent (2 pts, 3 rebs) in over 30 minutes, but Irving went full “Kyrie-diculous.” It was the third straight game the 24-year old scored 30+ points, and it even impressed LeBron.
That was special. That will go down as one of the all-time greatest performances in finals history by my point guard,” LeBron marveled. “He was spectacular.”
Irving took defenders off the dribble at will, drilled threes, pirouetted in the paint and answered the call from the critics.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson still combined for 52 points, and the Warriors get Draymond back for Game Six. The tone could change dramatically by tipoff on Thursday, but Monday night belonged to the Cavs and King Kyrie.
It was fight or flight time for Cleveland, and Irving wasn’t ready to book his vacation yet.
“I just continue to stay aggressive and get out in transition, and use this big fella next to me (LeBron) to get easy shots,” Kyrie said. “We’re just attacking matchups and we have to have consistency going into Game Six.”
The fans in Quicken Loans Arena watched the win on the jumbotron in Cleveland, while Draymond watched it on a TV in the A’s stadium across the street. He’ll be back in the house for Game Six, and he’ll be hungry.
James looked like the baddest man on the court again without Green under his skin. The irritant returns on Thursday, and he will have a chance to get the last laugh.
--(Full Box Score)--