The Golden State Warriors withstood LeBron James' 40 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers abrupt switch to small ball to come up with a 104-91 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
Cavaliers head coach David Blatt tinkered with his lineup and rotation by removing some size and digging into his bench to match the Warrior’s speed and quickness on both ends.
But Stephen Curry’s smooth and timely shooting for 37 points, a clutch 13 points from veteran guard Leandro Barbosa and big plays from Andre Iguodala, along with Draymond Green’s 16 points, prevailed in a game where no team led by more than six points until 3:45 was left in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors can clinch the series and championship in Game 6 Tuesday night, but will have to do so back in Cleveland.
Curry pushed the lead to 10 points by cutting up guard Matthew Dellavedova and nailing a step-back three from the wing with 2:43 left in the game, and the Cavs couldn’t stage a comeback.
James recorded his third triple-double of the postseason with a little over two minutes into the fourth quarter and wound up with 40 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. It was the sixth triple-double of James’ career in the Finals, and his second in this series.
Blatt's switch certainly invigorated Cleveland's J.R. Smith, who endured a severe shooting slump throughout the series but in particular went 0-for-8 from three in Game 4. He came out blazing by scoring eight of his 14 points in the first quarter to keep the Cavs afloat after an early scare, but he went cold in the second half.
After nailing his first two threes, Smith could’ve been ejected when he was whistled for a flagrant foul, first-degree, with 4:46 left in the first. He barreled over Golden State’s Draymond Green while fighting through a screen.
Forward Harrison Barnes, another player whose struggled in these Finals, gave Golden State the lead 51-50 at the half with a thunderous put-back dunk off a missed Curry layup, drew a foul on James and knocked down the free throw.
With five turnovers alone in the first 4:30 of the game and going a combined 1-for-7 from the floor, the Cavs fell behind 8-2 and Blatt called a timeout to cauterize any more early bleeding. Cleveland responded from the beyond the arc and took the lead 17-16 with a three from Iman Shumpert with 2:46 left in the first.