LeBron, Kyrie Make History To Keep Cavs Alive

LeBron James and Kyrie  Irving put on a performance for the ages in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors, 112-97, to stave off elimination.

James and Irving each had 41 points, the first pair of teammates to score 40 or more points in an NBA Finals game.

James shot 16-for-30, and was 4-8 from behind the arc, with 16 rebounds.

Irving shot 17-for-24, with five three-pointers and six assists.

James’ performance in this one was comparable to when he scored 45 points in Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 with the Miami Heat, and then they went on to beat the Celtics in seven games.

James said of the similarities to that night in Boston, “I think the main thing is that we were able to give ourselves another chance. Going into Boston, being down 3-2, you know, we understood that, hey, listen, the season is over if we don’t go out and try to take care of business. Being a big part of our success, I had to come out and do some things to help us win that ballgame, and tonight was just another example of that. Understood the magnitude of this game. I knew how great of a team we were playing, but I just had to come out and just — I know my teammates trust me, I trust them, and that was the result of it.”

Irving said of carrying the offense with James, and if it can be sustained, “I think our spacing was pretty good tonight in terms of where guys were positioning and our weakside action, which I’ve been talking about almost this whole series waiting for it to happen, and it happened. Guys were in the spots, and it opened and allowed myself and LeBron to see a lot of driving lanes. But also, if we saw guys coming over to help, we were ready to spread out to our teammates.

“Now, mind you, to repeat a performance like this would definitely be tough, but whatever it takes to win. I know myself and he over there, as well as echoing to my teammates, are willing to do, and we’ll be very well prepared for Game 6.

“But that’s the only thing that’s on our mind right now. We’re not satisfied. We understand the magnitude of what Game 6 means for us at home, and we know that it will be an incredible level that they’re going to play at, and we have to play at an even better level.”

James said that Irving had one of the greatest performances he’s ever seen in the Playoffs, and said what really made it epic for him, “Just calm. Just calm for 48 minutes. Obviously he played 40 minutes, but even in the 8 minutes that he was sitting down, he was just calm. Timely bucket after bucket that led our team. The fourth quarter, I mean, he hit timely shot after shot after shot when those guys were trying to get back into the game.

“Defensively, he was phenomenal as well, guarding Steph (Curry) and guarding the rest of those guys, whoever he was matched up on. They tried to post him a few times with Harrison Barnes, and he just made it tough on him. Got his hand on the ball a couple times on the post. He was just locked in on both sides of the floor. So that’s what I saw, and that’s why I said what I said.”

Irving said of his efficiency in Game 5, and what enabled him you to perform like that and carry his fast start throughout the course of the entire game, “Just sticking with our game plan and going off the trust of my teammates as well as getting a lot of opportunities in transition that we weren’t necessarily taking advantage of in Game 4, whether — for whatever reason. But I think as well is the way we spaced out our lineups and when guys were coming in, relieving us and giving us a few minutes here and there, it gave us an incredible amount of energy that we needed to sustain the high level that we were playing at.”

James said of knowing that he had to take it to another level to keep this series alive, “At this point, it’s whatever it takes. Obviously making shots and things of that nature are something that you sometimes really can’t control. Sometimes the ball go in; sometimes it don’t. How hard you play, how locked in you are on the keys to get a victory, what the coaching staff put out for us. But he was — obviously this guy was special, and we rode him to the victory line.”

Warriors forward Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 due to an accumulation of flagrant fouls caused by an incident with James in the fourth game.

James said of how Green’s absence affected the Cavaliers offensively and also defensively, “I think from a mental standpoint it wasn’t about anybody that was on the floor. We just had a mindset that we wanted to come in here and just try to extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day. And that was our main concern, and we were able to do that.”

Warriors point guard Steph Curry said of James and Irving’s performances, “They’re two talented players that are capable of big games like that. You don’t want it to happen on you or especially in a situation like tonight. But I wouldn’t say surprised because of what their talent level is and what they’ve shown in the past and, like he said, LeBron in big games.

“It sucks that it happened tonight with the opportunity we had in front of us to close out a series at home in front of our home fans, and it’s a tough feeling. But you work hard in the series early to put ourselves in this position again on Thursday, and we’ll be ready. We’ll obviously watch the film and understand the way the mishaps were, especially on the defensive end against those two guys. Come out with confidence and get the job done.”

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue said the night James and Irving had, “Well, we just want them to be aggressive, continue to attack like we’ve been talking about all series. And they had two great games, two breakout games. We need those two guys to give us confidence early, and they both did that.

“Everyone playing in the game, everyone on the bench stayed engaged. We made some mistakes, but the guys never gave in. We never quit when they made their runs. We stuck with it after making some mistakes, and that’s a tribute to the guys and just how much they wanted it.

“But I’m just very excited and proud of the way we scrapped and continued to play hard. That’s how we’ve got to play. That’s us.”


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