The Cavs will have to make history to win the NBA Championship. They kept their hopes alive by winning in Oakland on Monday and forcing a Game 6 against Golden State tomorrow in Cleveland. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the Cavs showed they still had some fight left in them on the brink of elimination on Monday.
Pluto says The Golden State Warriors were 49-3 on their home court before Monday's game. There was added tension as the Warriors' Draymond Green was suspended for hitting LeBron James in the groin in Game 4. And Golden State's fans lashed out.
"During warm-ups, every time LeBron shot a layup, they were booing like crazy," Pluto says. But "LeBron had the scowl on. And it’s like, ‘This is my night.’ "
And, it was. The Cavs made history in Game 5 as James and Kyrie Irving each scored 41 points, becoming the first two players in NBA history to each score at least 40 points.
"Kyrie Irving never played a better game in his life and LeBron's setting up Kyrie and making sure he gets the ball," Pluto says.
The Cavs scored 112 points, 82 of them belonged to James and Irving. Pluto says another 15 points came from passes from either of those two. "So, 97 out of 112 points were direct products of either Kyrie Irving or LeBron James."
Another historic night needed
No team in NBA Finals history has come back from being down 3 games to 1 to win the title.
"Thirty-two teams have been in the same position," Pluto says. "None has ever come back."
"There’s been seven teams since 2000 down 3-1, five of them lost that next game because they all know, you’re done. After you’ve been going at it for two months in the playoffs and then suddenly you realize history says you have no chance, you start making vacation plans in your head."
LeBron James has been on both sides of a 3-1 series
Pluto says James has been on the last two teams that were either up or down 3-1.
"In 2014, he was with Miami. They’re down 3-1, and they just got annihilated by the Spurs. The year before that, LeBron is with Miami, only this time they’re up 3-1 and this time, they play Oklahoma City and they crush them."
Pluto says he's asked James about being in those situations and how he handles it. “He basically talked around it, [saying], 'Well, you play for pride and you just try to win one game.'"
But, Pluto thinks there's a different reason for added fuel for the Cavs this time.
"I think, the Draymond Green suspension, along with the hostility towards LeBron, created this thing for the Cavs; they were not going to lose that game in front of those people in that building. 'We’ll worry about the next game later, but this is not one we’re going to lose.'"
Looking ahead to game 6
The Cavs will play Game 6 with home-court advantage, but the Warriors' Green will be in the lineup.
"It’s a big deal because he’s a good defensive player," Pluto says. "That was the one thing when the Cavs did a lot of driving to the rim, there was nobody there to stop them."
"Golden State is one of the best teams I’ve ever seen when they’re playing well. They can come into Cleveland and win this game. But I also think the Cavs, because of this extra thing between LeBron and Draymond, it took it out of the normal, 'We’re down 3-1 let’s see if I can get a trip to Cancun.’ That seemed to be not going on at all. If nothing else it’s, ‘Let's make life miserable for these guys because we’re sick of them.' And that’s good if you’re Cavs fan. It has a lot of sizzle.
If the Cavs win, the series goes back to Oakland for Game 7, "which will be a real rocker, too."