The stage was set.
Dub Nation was out in force anticipating that their Golden State Warriors would wrap up another NBA Championship, but someone forgot to tell the Cleveland Cavaliers how things were supposed to end. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving lived up to their superstar tags and kept the champagne on ice — for at least one more game.
With “Free Draymond” chants echoing throughout Oracle Arena, almost as loud as the boos every time LeBron even though about going near the ball, it soon became clear that the Cavs were going to be sticking to their game plan of getting James and Irving the ball and getting out of the way — and it was working.
At the half both teams only had 3 players in double figures, including the two superstars of each team. Klay Thompson had 25 for the Dubs, while James had 26 for the Cavs.
Only minutes into the second half, Aussie big man Andrew Bogut went down after blocking a shot and hyper-extending his knee, making the absence of Draymond Green even more glaring, and allowing Cleveland to jump out to a ten-point lead.
The battle between James and Thompson continued throughout the third term as the pair traded blows on the scoreboard, and heading into the final quarter it was Irving who was proving to be the only thing stopping the Dubs from attaining another Larry O’Brien trophy.
As a player often relied on in situations like this over the past two season, Harrison Barnes was nowhere to be found. Ice cold from the field, Barnes continued to shoot the open jump shot but was unable to convert, while on the other end of the floor, Irving had reached unconscious levels of shooting, dropping shots from absolutely everywhere with Thomspon’s hand in his face.
Even though the defensive effort from Cleveland had not changed, midway through the final term the Warriors’ offense disintegrated. Through bad shot selection and failure to capitalize on the open shots that they did get, it all seemed to unravel for the Dubs as Cleveland pulled further out of reach.
The depth that we have seen from the Dubs throughout the season was not there as Mo Speights, Brandon Rush, and Leandro Barbosa all came up empty, and the disappointed Warriors fans were filing out of the arena with more than 2 minutes still left on the clock.
It’s a strange feeling being inside an area packed with positive energy and slowly watching it seep away as the game passed. To let you experience the Cav’s amazing victory from an in arena perspective, we took our cameras along and captured the nights events as they unfolded.
While James and Irving were busy getting things done on the scoreboard, with both scoring 41 points, there are still some concerns for the Cavs as Kevin Love only contributed 2 points, and JR Smith couldn’t find the bottom of the net after the end of the first quarter.
Now the series heads back to Cleveland for Game 6 of the Finals where the Warriors will regain their versatile big man Draymond Green, putting the pressure right back onto the Cavaliers. It’s going to be a big ask for the Cavs superstars to pull out another performance like Monday night’s, so will some of their teammates rise to the challenge?
Only time will tell.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals takes place in Cleveland this Thursday.
Featured Image – USA Today