The Golden State Warriors are one win away from winning their first NBA title in 40 years after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-91 in Game 5 of the Finals on Sunday night in Oakland.
It was a back and forth game for three-plus quarters before the Warriors, riding the hot hand of MVP Stephen Curry, pulled away late. It also didn’t come without yet another awe-inspiring performance from LeBron James, who netted his second triple-double of the series.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 15, 2015
Attempting to adjust to the Warriors small-ball mentality, Cavaliers head coach David Blatt benched Timofey Mozgov just five minutes into the game. With a two days of rest, that move started to pay dividends early for Cleveland, as J.R. Smith hit four three-pointers in the first half to give his team an early lead after a hot start by the Warriors. However, Cleveland’s defense struggled with protecting the rim without Mozgov in the game. That enabled the likes of Curry and Leandro Barbosa to slash to the lane.
Undermanned by every definition of the word, James played all but three minutes in the game, scoring 40 points while grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. Unable to do everything by himself, James contributed to well over 75 percent of Cleveland’s points on the night.
It would have been enough if Curry didn’t break out big time in Game 5. The league’s MVP went for 37 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a signature performance everyone was waiting for. He also hit 7-of-13 from three-point range, bringing his single-season playoff record to 95 during this run.
Starting in place of Andrew Bogut, who didn’t play a single minute in this one, Andre Iguodala played another exceptional game. He went for 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals while playing pretty darn well defensively against James.
However, it was Curry’s ridiculous shooting in the final stanza that brings the Warriors to the brink of the NBA title. With Cleveland up 80-79 at the 7:47 mark of the fourth quarter, Curry got hot:
Despite James’ best efforts, it just wasn’t enough to overcome Curry’s fourth quarter performance. In fact, James made 15 of the teams field goals and tallied 11 of its 17 assists.
More than in another game of the series, the stars were on full display Sunday night at Oracle. It’s what we have been waiting for, and it brought the most excitement we have seen from an NBA Finals game in a while.
Game 6 is Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC. If the Cavaliers are able to pull off the win, Game 7 will be Friday night in Oakland. If not, the Warriors will be celebrating in the house that LeBron built.
Photo: USA Today Sports