James, Irving create history as Cleveland stays alive in Game 5

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James, Irving create history as Cleveland stays alive in Game 5

 

With their backs to the wall, the Cleveland Cavaliers would have to play efficient team basketball to survive and live another day against the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Though Cleveland didn’t take down the Draymond Green-less Golden State Warriors as a team, it didn’t matter, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving did it all by themselves.

James and Irving are known as one of the best one-two punches in the league; they’d never dominate the way they did in Game 5. The duo became the first teammates in NBA Finals history to both score 40 or more points in the same game. James and Irving dropped 41 points apiece as the Cleveland defeated Golden State 112-97 extending the series to a 6th game.

After a mediocre start (at least for James) to the 2016 Finals, LeBron James would have to play like the MVP he once was to take out Golden State. “King James” did just that. He had that killer look; he was not going out without a fight. James exploded for a season-high (playoffs or regular season) 41 points, along with 16 rebounds (also a season high), seven assists, three steals and three blocks while shooting 16/30 from the field. He was feeling it from everywhere; his mid-range and three-point shot staggered all series, but was unconsciously hitting shots in the second half.

 

 

If you think LeBron James’ performance was special, you should have seen the flames spewing from the ball every time Kyrie Irving shot it. Irving drained 17/24 shots, along with 5/7 from downtown. Whenever the ball was in his hands, everyone knew he was going to score. Irving used his immaculate dribbling skills to hit difficult shots off the dribble matching James’ total of 41 points. “Uncle Drew’s” isolation game was way too much for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or whoever dared to guard him.

 

 

LeBron James was extremely proud of teammate Kyrie Irving, calling his night “one of the greatest performances [he’d] seen live.” James continued, saying, “that was special. That will go down in the all-time greatest performances of Finals history by my point guard. He was spectacular tonight.”

The absence of Draymond Green was certainly paying its toll on the Golden State Warriors. LeBron James forced his way through the paint with ease, using his speed to drive past big-men such as Andrew Bogut, Anderson Varejao, and James Michael McAdoo. Sure, Golden State was without Green, but they can’t make too many excuses knowing they have the deepest team in the NBA.

 

Some statistics from Game 5:

  • LeBron James and Kyrie Irving became the only teammates in NBA History to both record 40+ points in a single NBA Finals game.
  • Kyrie Irving became the first LeBron James teammate to ever put up three straight 30+ point performances in the Playoffs.
  • LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both did not score 40+ points once in the 2015-16 regular season.
  • LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored or assisted on 97 points in Game 5. The Golden State Warriors scored 97 points as a team.
  • LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s combined 82 points were the most by two teammates when facing elimination in the NBA Finals.
  • LeBron James is the first player with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in an NBA Finals game since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001.
  • Kyrie Irving joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA History to score 40+ points while shooting 70% from the field.

 

Whether you like them or not, you must admit Kyrie Irving and LeBron James’ Game 5 performances were amazing. The way the duo put the ball in the basket with ease against the reigning champions was a thing of beauty. We can’t forget, the Cleveland Cavaliers still trail 3-2 in the Finals series, and are still on the brink of defeat, though. Game 6 is a must watch.

 

 

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