I don’t know what just happened.
Yeah, I get it…Draymond Green was at a baseball game. The W’s were too small and out of rythm. They hadn’t earned any of their record 88 wins this year without their defensive-minded bully.
But Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals felt like it was played on Mars, or in the Space Jam time continuum, not in Oakland, California.
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James went off like Monstars.
Irving joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players in Finals history to score 40-plus points and shoot 70-plus percent from the field. (Wilt Chamberlain!) (70 percent!) He was 17-for-24 from the field.
LeBron also scored 41, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out 7 assists, and looked like a man possessed. He was at his absolute best, reminding everybody of his 45 points against the Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, or his 25 straight points against the Pistons in 2007.
He was in killer-mode, peak Jordan mode, stormtrooper-in-space mode.
That’s the LeBron everybody who had been criticizing him for his less-than-stellar Finals record had been waiting on.
That’s the guy that almost single-handedly willed the Cavs to the championship last year, against these very Warriors. And he showed up at just the right time.
While LeBron has done this type of thing before, Kyrie Irving’s performance, on the other hand, was much more stunning. This was just his sixth Finals game. He’s still only 24 years old. And yet he goes off for 41, torching the Warriors’ defense, particularly in the second half.
Irving hadn’t even played particularly well on the road in the playoffs, and was held to 10 and 17 points in his first two games in Golden State in the series. But on Monday night, he came through with the biggest performance of his life, and he and James combined to score the most points for a duo in NBA Finals history.
The outpouring was made even more amazing by the fact that Cleveland could have easily packed it in. Klay Thompson went off for 37 points, including 18 in the second quarter. He looked like he was going to lead his team to the title the way he carried them to these Finals, when he scored 41 points in a crucial Game 6 win at Oklahoma City.
But the Cavs clamped down in the second half, forcing the Warriors to shoot just 3-for-21 from three and holding them to 36 points.
In the end, it was a 112-97 win that was unlike any other in the series, and downright stunning.
Draymond, no Draymond.
This series is going back to Cleveland, and the Warriors may be in trouble.
And I’m still trying to figure out how it all happened.