NBA Finals Game 5 Recap: LeBron’s Triple-Double Is Not Enough

In a back and forth game, fraught with lead changes, the Warriors came up victorious at home to become the first team in the 2015 NBA Finals to win 3 games. The Warriors were led by a special performance by MVP Stephen Curry.

Both the Cavaliers and Warriors came out of the gate lacking confidence, understandably so in a game that may decide who goes on to win the NBA Finals. It took almost three minutes for the first basket of the game to be scored.

LeBron James played out of his mind to start this game. Eighteen of the Cavaliers’ 22 first quarter points were created by LeBron, in the form of an assist or shot. Two of those Cavaliers points unrelated to LeBron James, came on free throws. The second basket unrelated to James came on a three-pointer by Matthew Dellavedova, 22 minutes after the first.

James spoke of his need for heightened efficiency on Saturday, but it is nothing new for him, “Well, I’m in a spot where I have to be very productive, and that’s just the spot I’ve always been in.”

Draymond Green was the Warriors first quarter equivalent to James. In the opening quarter, Draymond was doing it all, he played masterful defense on players much bigger than him. In addition, Green scored 10 points in the first 12 minutes.

Cleveland and Golden State combined for a total of eight turnovers in a quarter filled with sloppiness. The score at the end of the first was tied at 22.

Cavaliers coach David Blatt made a vital rotation change early in this game, as he granted playing time to veteran Mike Miller in order to give Matthew Dellavedova time to rest. Dellavedova has been dealing with severe exhaustion in the last two games. Another change for the Cavaliers was extended playing time for James Jones in a new role for him. Jones has played some in this series for his three-point capabilities, but tonight he played as the big man and did an admirable job.

In the opening half, Stephen Curry was playing in a way we haven’t seem him in these NBA Finals. No matter where the MVP shot the ball from, it magically made its way into the basket. Curry shot 6-9, including making three of his four attempts from beyond the arc in the first 24 minutes.

LeBron James matched the greatness of the Warriors star and raised him. LeBron played a historic half, almost achieving a triple-double before the first half had come to end. James had 20 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds. LeBron is the first player to achieve this feat since he entered the league in the regular season or playoffs. The 20 points and eight assists matches LeBron’s totals from Game 4 in those categories. James was on the court for all but 26 seconds in the opening 24 minutes of play. He showed no sign of fatigue, which seemed evident earlier in these NBA Finals, as documented by ESPN.

The Cavaliers did not have a good shooting half, as they shot only 41.5 percent after one half of play. The Warriors story was much different, as they shot 54.1 percent in the first half.

Knicks import J.R. Smith helped the Cavaliers pull ahead early in the second quarter and stay close throughout the half. Smith caught fire, something we had not yet seen in this series, scoring 14 points with four three-pointers. J.R. Smith only made four three-point attempts in the last three games combined. Not only was J.R. a scoring threat, but his energy carried over to his teammates. He dove for loose balls and went up for rebounds. Smith’s second half was much more familiar

The score at the end of the first half was 51-50 after a late run by the Warriors to capture the lead.

David Blatt had to match the play style of the Warriors, which was small and fast. Timofey Mozgov, coming off the game of his life had to take the hit. Mozgov was replaced five minutes into the first quarter and only returned once, late in the third quarter. The Russian center committed a foul just 1.8 seconds after his substitution.

Warriors center Andrew Bogut started the first three games of the NBA Finals, but did not play a single minute in Game 5. The much shorter, but faster, Andre Iguodala started in his place the last two games.

Andre Iguodala quietly stuffed the stat sheets. Iguodala scored 13 points, pulled down eight rebounds, and had seven assists. Late in the fourth quarter, Iguodala made a corner three to give his team a five-point lead and major momentum going into the next possession. In that next possession, Iguodala made a lay up and was fouled.

The Warriors dictated play for much of the third quarter, while LeBron James could not get anything going for the Cavaliers. He shot just 1-6 and had only one assist. The problem was not a change in the play style of James, just that the ridiculous shots he was making in the first half were no longer going in.

LeBron James got his 10th assist early in the third quarter on a three-point shot by Iman Shumpert to tie the game at 75. That makes him the fourth player to have multiple triple-doubles in the same NBA Finals (Game 2 and 5). The other players to achieve this feat were Wilt Chamberlain (1967), Magic Johnson (1984,1985,1991), and Larry Bird (1986). James ended the game with 40 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. This is the first 40 point triple-double in the NBA Finals in 30 years.

Stephen Curry exhibited his greatness in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Curry was 5-7 in the fourth for 17 points. Overall, he shot 13-23 and 7-23 from beyond the arc, for 37 total points.This is just the second time that Stephen Curry has scored at least 30 points against a LeBron James team. In addition to the impressive scoring, Curry also had the highest +/- on the Warriors (+24). Stephen Curry’s dominant fourth quarter helped lead the Warriors to a double-digit victory over the Cavaliers.

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 104-91 in a game that was much more difficult for the Warriors than the score shows. The Warriors finished the game with a 19-7 run to insure their victory.

Game 6 will take place on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Can the Golden State Warriors close out the series on the road?

[Image Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images]