The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 112-97, in game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday night, in Oakland, California. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James scored 41 points a piece for the Cavs, the only time two teammates have scored 40 points in a NBA Finals game. James also grabbed 16 rebounds and handed out 7 assist. The win extends the series to a sixth game, Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio.
“We had a mindset that we wanted to come here and just extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day,” James said. “That was our main concern, and we were able to do that.”
Irving at times appeared unstoppable, finishing with 17-24 made field goals, which included sinking 5-7 from three point territory. Irving was an efficient scorer early, starting with a made three point shot, from a James assist. Irving the proceeded to drill his 7 of his first 8 field goals.
Irving aggressive play style has been paying off. Since game 2 of the finals when Irving only scored 10 points, he has scored 30, 34, and 41 points repectivily.
“I’m thankful, but at the same time we wouldn’t be in any position without both of us putting on a performance like this,” Irving said. “Our guys coming in and just trusting our leadership and doing it for four quarters…that’s what it’s about.”
James had a effective an efficient jump shot all night, he missed two early lay up attempts and had a few turnovers. Then James nailed two three point shots early in the first quarter, and then relied on his fade-away jump shot in the throughout the night.
“We’re just happy we got another day. That’s all we can ask for,” James said. “We got another day to survive. We’re going to start preparing tonight, start preparing tomorrow and whenever Game 6 is we’ll be ready.”
The Warriors started the game shorthanded due to the suspension of forward Draymond Green. Green had been suspended by the league on Saturday after they deemed his punch to James groin in game 4, worthy of a flagrant one foul.
Things just got worse for the Warriors when center Andrew Bogut left the game with a knee injury, after colliding with Cavs guard JR Smith. Warriors coach Steve Kerr then used a line-up consisting of forward Harrison Barnes at center. The change backfired on Kerr as Irving and James took advantage of a now open area around the rim.
Barnes who weighs a slim 225 lbs at 6’8 inches tall, got bullied by Cavs Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Both Thompson and Love weigh more 240 lbs.
Barnes who had been playing well early in the series, played awful Monday night. After missing two free with 8 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Barnes then only made 1 of his next seven shots. After those missed free throws Barnes displayed bad body language, and the misses seemed to effect him as the game went on.
Kerr expressed after the game that the team was prepared to play without Green, and they didn’t play well, especially on defense.
“We weren’t very good defensively,” Kerr said. “We obviously knew we were without Draymond, so there’s no point in harping on that. We had to play better, and we didn’t.”
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson played well as their team came up short. Thompson was the teams leading scorer, with 37 points making 11-20 field goals. He also made 6-11 3 point shots, he and Curry combined for 62 points.
“It obviously stings real bad,” Thompson said. “We’ll come back stronger.”
“We like our chances going forward and continuing to just try to be us, the best we can, and get one more win,” Curry said.
Thursday night the Warriors will take their 3-2 series lead to Cleveland, the site of their championship win last season. Kerr is very optimistic about his teams chances.
“I kind of like our position,” coach Steve Kerr said. “… I like our position a lot better than theirs.”