But for the man who has put Cleveland, a city in the midst of a 52-year major sports title drought, two wins away from a championship for a second straight year, having his season end in Game Five of the NBA Finals wasn’t an option either.
However, James was eager to focus on the performance of Irving.
Cleveland has stolen the momentum at this NBA Finals, Andrew Bogut might not be coming back, Draymond Green could be rusty and walking on eggshells trying to avoid more punishment and the Warriors only need to think back a few weeks to know a rally from 3-1 down is possible.
Irving hadn’t even played particularly well on the road in the playoffs, and was held to 10 and 17 points in his first two games in Golden State in the series. Irving was making shots left and right, and James put up 13 more.
“As Game 5 wound down, and the realization of a Game 6 hit him, Green changed his demeanor, a source said, and became increasingly excited about the challenge ahead”, Spears writes. But the team with the lead, history and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on their side is suddenly in a unusual position because of another pair of teammates. The 7-foot center sprained his left knee early in the third quarter Monday and was scheduled for an MRI exam Tuesday before the team traveled.
Game 6 will be played at 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC.
Known for being a player that can score, but one that would just as well set up teammates for good looks at the basket, James had the ball in his hands at all points around the floor and attacked the rim with ferocity on the way to converting 16 of his 30 shots en route to the 41 points. Powerless to stop him, Golden State resorted to hacking Tristan Thompson intentionally at the end of the third quarter to try to throw the Cavaliers off.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were 3 for 21 from 3-point range in the second half.
“We didn’t communicate”, Golden State’s Shaun Livingston said.
“There were a couple switches that we were very lazy on, and when guys get hot like that, if you don’t shore up your defense, especially in pivotal moments where you have momentum, that’s when it comes back to bite you”, Curry said. In my opinion this game changed the series for two reasons. 1. The Warriors lead 3-2 as the series heads back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Thursday.
Despite the outcome of the game, it was still weird that LeBron personally requested that the Cavs wear that jersey.
On the other side, Thompson lit it up for the Warriors.
Irving finished with the fourth-highest field goal percentage by a player who took at least 20 shots in an NBA Finals game.
The Eastern Conference winners extended the series against the defending National Basketball Association champions after the Cavs took advantage of Draymond Green’s absence. “It was one of those nights”.