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LeBron James and Kyrie Irving put on the greatest duo performance in NBA Finals history to keep the Cavaliers alive, and trim the series lead. It was do or die, end or extend tonight, as the Cavs headed into Oracle Arena in a desperate situation. They needed their stars, and they showed up tenfold to lift them to victory.
It all started with LeBron James, as he was smoking hot to start the ball game. His jump shot was unstoppable, and the Warriors simply could not stop the King to start the contest. The Cavaliers were looking for someone to give them a reason to believe, and their leader stepped up and gave them the confidence they craved. LeBron was aggressive, and the Cavs followed suit, with JR Smith also adding ten points in the first quarter. The Warriors didn’t lay down however, with Klay Thompson also catching fire, and both teams traded buckets in the first period, with the Warriors edging it 29-32 after one.
The start of the second period, the Cavs knew they had to continue to attack, and LeBron’s running mate, Kyrie Irving, joined the party. As Klay continued his three point assault, Irving and James took their turns in punishing the Warriors for switching on defense, creating favourable matchups for both. Kyrie started to heat up, and LeBron continued to look for his jumper, which was torching the Warriors. The Cavs outscored the Warriors 32-29 in the second period to even the game at 61 apiece. LeBron had 25 points and nine rebounds at the break, but more uncharacteristically, he had zero assists at halftime, indicating his score first mindset. With LeBron going and the Cavs right in the game, you could sense it could be a very special night for the Cavaliers.
The third period started off brilliantly for the Cavs, as Kyrie Irving started to stamp his mark on the contest. He started the quarter with a couple of and-1 plays and trailing three pointers, spelling bad news for the Warriors. LeBron remained in attack mode, and as Kyrie got going, important contributions from Richard Jefferson and Tristan Thompson allowed the Cavs to create separation and take control of the game. Klay Thompson kept the three point barrage coming, and the Warriors even resorted to the hack-a-Thompson strategy to gain an advantage, but the Cavs overcame it all to open up a nine point lead after three quarters 93-84.
The Cavs had control of the game, and the final period belonged to Kyrie Irving. LeBron James and the Cavs got out of the way, as Kyrie put on a show in the last quarter to close the deal. Irving was mesmerising, as he could not miss despite the Warriors throwing multiple players at him in the hopes of slowing him down. He had 12 of the Cavs 19 points in the final period and the Cavs ran away winners to force a game six in Cleveland, 112-97.
LeBron and Kyrie finished with 41 points each, combining for 82 together. They scored or assisted on 97 of the Cavs 112 total points throughout the contest, with the Warriors having 97 points as an entire team. Also, LeBron’s 40+ points and 15+ rebounds is stat line that hasn’t been achieved in the Finals since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001. It was a truly special night for the dynamic duo, and more importantly for the entire Cavs roster, as they now have a chance to even the series.
The series now heads back to Cleveland on Thursday, as the Cavs have a chance to even this series and force a game seven. The Cavs will be looking for their home crowd to push them to victory in the hopes of creating a one off match for the championship.
Click “Next” to see all the highlights from tonight’s game!