Early in the 2nd quarter, Stephen Curry got the ball in transition, with only Iman Shumpert in his way. Steph leaned his shoulder into Shumpert, creating separation, and getting a wide open look at a lay-up. Steph flipped it up, only to have it swatted, powerfully, into the stands. LeBron James had come out of nowhere to get one of his patented chase down blocks. It was one of his 3 blocks in the game, but it had to be the sweetest of all. It wasn’t just a block though, it was a statement. LeBron James was angry; and he came to play.
The Golden State Warriors had been trash talking LeBron since the Game 4 incident with Draymond Green. The incident that led to Green’s game 5 suspension. Many Warriors players, as well as their fans, felt that LeBron handled the situation wrong, and was awarded by the league for his “babyish” behavior. Personally, I feel like it was the right move on the league’s part, but many others believe LeBron had the groin shot coming because he stepped over Green. Regardless, this isn’t the first dirty play by Green, nor will it be the last.
After the game, Klay joked that LeBron’s feelings were hurt, and his father Mychal, went as far as to call him a baby. Klay was digging his grave, and his father filled it up. LeBron was completely composed in game 5 taking the high road, as he has his whole career, save for game 4.
Golden State’s fans made their distaste for LeBron known, as they booed him in warm-ups, and well into the game. The boos had little, to no effect on James, who had his best shooting performance of the play-offs, right on cue. His fingerprints were all over the game, having one of the most complete performances in NBA Final’s history: 41 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
However, LeBron got some much needed help, as Kyrie had a historic scoring performance on his way to 41 points. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only other player in NBA Finals history to score over 40 points, while shooting 70% from the field (Kyrie shot 17-24). It was the 3rd straight game scoring 30 or more points for Kyrie, who is showing us that he was more than ready for his first Finals appearance.
Golden State’s duo tried to keep up with LeBron and Kyrie, but to no avail. Klay Thompson had another great shooting performance hitting 6 three’s on his way to 37 points, while Curry added 25. The story for Curry, however, was his continued poor shooting (save for game 4). Curry shot 5-15 from behind the arch, forcing the issue at times.
Green’s vision and screening that gets Klay and Curry so many open looks was clearly missed, as was his versatility on defense. Draymond is the heart and soul of the Warriors team, essentially being the modern day Bill Laimbeer, sticking up for his teammates, getting in the opponents heads, and playing hard-nosed basketball. Without him, they looked lost.
He returns in game 6, as the Warriors travel back to Cleveland to try and close out the series. It will be a tough task to accomplish, as the Cav’s have only lost once at home in the playoffs (Game 4), especially with Kyrie and LeBron coming off of a game where they combined for 82 points. Draymond’s return will help, no doubt, but it might just spark another angry performance from “The King.”