When I sent out that tweet just before game time, I had a gut feeling that the environment surrounding Game 5 at Oracle Arena was exactly the type of environment that LeBron James thrives in. The relentless taunting from Warriors fans as LeBron’s team faced elimination reminded me of that fateful night at the TD Garden in June of 2o12 when the Pierce-Garnett-Allen era of Celtics basketball unofficially ended at the hands of one LeBron James.
That tweet was only partially correct though. LeBron finished with 41 points and 16 rebounds as he was booed by the Oracle Arena crowd almost every single time he touched the ball (including warm ups), but it took a superb effort from a different Cavalier to make the difference in Game 5 and give Cleveland the 112-97 victory. Kyrie Irving was simply spectacular.
“He was just calm for 48 minutes,” said LeBron said in the post game press conference. “Obviously he only played 40 minutes, but even in the eight minutes on the bench, he was just calm.”
Irving shot 70% (!!) from the field matched LeBron’s point total with 41, but Irving’s most timely shots came in the fourth quarter as he helped the Cavaliers extend their lead and solidify their Game 5 win to send the series back to Cleveland.
On the other side of the ball, Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 37 points. Andrew Bogut’s status remains to be seen after his nasty knee injury in the third quarter, but Draymond Green will be back on the court for Game 6 as the Warriors once again look to claim the NBA title.