NBA Finals Recap: King James and Uncle Drew… Put some respeck on their names!

Now that was fun, right?! That was a clash of the titans. That was a 15-round heavyweight title fight. Or as Kevin Garnett would say, that was “a goddamn bar fight!

The Cleveland Cavaliers staved off elimination on Monday with a 112-97 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Remember how upset I was after that Game 3 blowout? Well, both teams must’ve read my recap because that was some of the most inspired basketball we’ve seen in this series.

Let’s start with the Cavs, because they played like that freight train we saw run roughshod over the entire Eastern Conference. LeBron James played like he wanted everyone to “put some respeck on his name” with 41 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. He set the tone early with hard-nosed drives to the rim, bullying the Warriors’ frontline. When King James plays like he played on Monday, there is really no stopping him. But the story of the night was Kyrie Irving.

Irving went into Uncle Drew-mode and played like he was working cats on the playground in a truly special performance. He poured in 41 points and six assists on 17-of-24 shooting, becoming the only player since Wilt Chamberlain to score 40+ on at least 70 percent shooting. He and James are the first teammates to each score at least 40 in a Finals game. Irving absolutely dominated Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry and any other defender the ‘Dubs sent his way:

Most importantly, Cleveland put together an outstanding performance on the road as if the first two duds at Oracle Arena never happened. Their defense was sound, especially in the second half as the Warriors went cold and finished with 36.4 percent from the field. Meanwhile, for Kevin Love (2 points, 1-of-5 shooting, 3 rebounds), the struggle is still very real:

For Golden State, it will definitely be a big regret to not have closed out this series on its home floor. But playing without Draymond Green, who was suspended after retroactively receiving a flagrant foul for actions in Game 4, definitely left a huge void on the court. Green is not only the spirit of the team who brings an unmatched energy to the floor, he’s also the defensive anchor. Without him on the backline to organize the defense, the Cavs had their way with the ‘Dubs as James and Irving got to the rim at-will. Should Green have been suspended in the first place? Let’s let Stephen A. Smith answer that question (Warning: lower your volume!):

Thompson led Golden State with 37 points, but 26 came in the first half. Curry added 25 and Andre Iguodala, starting in place of Green, had 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Even without Green screaming his butt off, the energy we’re used to seeing was still there. At this point you expect the Warriors to go on an incredible run where they bury teams with an avalanche of three-pointers, and it seemed like that moment would come multiple times on Monday, but the shots just wouldn’t fall. Green will be back in Game 6, but Golden State might still be shorthanded as Andrew Bogut suffered a knee sprain and his status is uncertain.

The Warriors still have the opportunity to close out the series on Thursday, but if the Cavaliers can continue performing like this we’d definitely get that seven-game series we were hoping for, which would have us like…

 

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