After dropping Game 4, and a chance to even the series at 2, the Cavaliers made the trip to Oakland for an elimination game. While it was very unlikely, Cleveland won on the road 112-97 to force a Game 6 back in ‘The Land’. They now have given themselves a chance at history along with the momentum that has seemingly swung like a pendulum throughout this series. Here are the five reasons the Cavaliers won Game 5.
Number 1: It Starts With Defense
Even though Cleveland gave up 61 first half points, they would hold the Warriors to a measly 36 in the second half. The Warriors are known for having a potent offense but they can sometimes get too careless with the ball, and the Cavs made them pay. Cleveland forced GSW into 17 turnovers which led to a 28-9 advantage in fast break points. Finally, they held the Warriors to a 36.4% field goal percentage overall and only 18 assists in the game.
Number 2: Not Letting the Game Get Away From Them
Going into a hostile environment such as Oracle, Cleveland knew what was in store for them. The Warriors started the game on a 9-3 run and forced the Cavs to take an early timeout. With the buzz that was going on in the arena, you wondered while watching if Cleveland had enough to counter the explosive start. Sure enough, Cleveland was able to weather the storm and at the end of one it was only a three-point deficit, and by halftime, the score was knotted up at sixty-one apiece. The Cavaliers kept GSW’s bench at bay (15 points, 25% shooting) and more importantly MVP Stephen Curry (25 points, 38% shooting) in check.
Number 3: No Draymond
It takes more than one player to finish off a series, and although they won’t use it as an excuse, the Warriors suffered without Draymond Green in the lineup, who was serving a one-game suspension. He wouldn’t have been able to stop LeBron since perimeter shots fell all night for James, but he could’ve made it that much more difficult for him. With him out, Golden State was also without one of their best play makers. Usually, when one of the Splash Brothers gets doubled teamed, they kick it to Green in the half-court to go four on three against the defense and make a play. The ball instead would end up in the hands of guys like Anderson Varejao, Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, etc. who were unable to make up for the playmaking ability.
Number 4: Bogut’s Loss to Injury
The Golden State Warriors were already playing without arguably their best defender in Draymond, when Andrew Bogut collapsed to the floor early in the game, clutching his leg in obvious pain. He was taken to the locker room and would not return for the remainder of the match. Bogut’s absence in the second half gave the Warriors one less shot blocker and the Cavaliers feasted in the paint, outscoring the Warriors in that area 48-30.
Number 5: Heroic Performances by the Dynamic Duo
For Cleveland to have a chance to send this back home for Game 6, their stars would need to have incredible performances on the road. The combination of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James played incredibly and had a game for the ages, becoming the first teammates to each have at least 40 points each in a Finals Game. The Warriors would throw their best defenders at the two and would make runs in the second half to cut the lead down, but the duo never relinquished their attacking mentality. They kept the Warriors at bay in ‘The Bay’ from hoisting their second consecutive trophy and LeBron and Kyrie were the main reasons for this.