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Lebron James and Kyrie Irving play superhero ball

  Just business...  
In a season in which Golden State's' "Splash Brothers," Klay Thompson and Stephan Curry, have been lauded as one of the best one-two punches in NBA history, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving out-cannon-balled (no pun intended Draymond Green) the duo with a performance never-before-seen in an NBA Finals.

For the first time in NBA history, two players for the same team scored 40+ points in a single NBA Finals' game. Technically, it's the first time in NBA history that two players for the same team have scored 41 points, which is exactly what James and Irving laid on the Warriors in Game 5, cutting the defending NBA Champions series lead to 3-2.

Let's talk about LeBron James for a moment. For years, one of the knocks on LeBron has been his lack of 'end-of-the-game,' clutch performances. While Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant seemed to thrive on knocking down game winners at the buzzer, it hasn't been a strong suit of Lebron's. With that said, that's never been his game.

While LeBron has in fact hit some game winners over the years, his "clutch" has always been to barrel over teams long before the final quarter. Lebron often takes a "bull in a china shop" approach, and that's exactly what happened last night, to the tune of 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.

Well done Golden State...well done.

Have you ever witnessed any more idiocy than what Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have done? Let's review, shall we:

From Game 4:


LeBron was guarding Stephen Curry, who was bringing the ball up the court with just under 3:00 to go in the fourth quarter. The Cavs were down ten, and while the game seemed over, this is Lebron James we're talking about, and the NBA Finals. Stranger things have happened, like this sequence of events.

Draymond Green crossed over to set a pick. Now, if you watched the video and have any sort of unbiased opinions here, the pick was about as illegal as you can get. He's essentially playing on the offensive line here, and in fairness to Green, he probably has to do this to Lebron to set a pick. Anyways, it wasn't just "handsy," but something more along the lines of just plain pushing and shoving. LeBron, after a bit of this, extends his arm, knocking Green over.

All of this was happened with a referee standing ten feet away, staring directly at them. No call was made because it's playoff basketball (or the refs suck). Both calls could have been made, but weren't.

With Green on the ground, LeBron chose to step directly over Green. In my opinion, it clearly was done intentionally, and it clearly was LeBron showing up Green for his generally thuggery. Again, the ref was right there, and again...no call. It clearly was technical-worthy.

The response?

Draymond Green pulled off some sorta psuedo-professional wrestling move, with a shot to LeBron's family heirlooms. It was clearly on purpose, and it's clearly a Draymond-epidemic.

Oh, and regardless of how it played out on social media, Draymond Green got exactly what he deserved. Why? Well, is it the first time that he did it? He flailed twice against Steven Adams, likely ending his career as a future father. He then followed up with the groin shot in this game, which makes it three times, documented, that Green has, well, tapped a part of a player that shouldn't be breached.

He got suspended for general ball-thuggery, so while you're preaching Free Draymond, give everyone a break.

Enter Klay Thompson.


Two quotes stand out to me:

"It's a man's league..."


It's a man's league, indeed.

and

"...just let it fuel the fire...."



I give Klay Thompson props though. He is pretty awesome at press conferences, and he came to play last night. He's far and away my favorite player on the Warriors, if there is such a thing, and the gamesmanship is part of what makes the NBA fun...on the court. Of course, when you say "keep it on the court," understand that it goes both ways. Unfortunately for Thompson, he pissed off Lebron, who went into full Bull mode, especially without Draymond Green on the court. I'm honestly not sure it would have mattered last night.

Lebron James isn't a flawless basketball player, but he's certainly not a guy that I'd piss off. He was on a mission in Game 5, and there's really nothing in the world like LeBron James on a freakin' mission, right Stephen?


While LeBron was brilliant, the Cavs don't win last night's basketball game without Kyrie Irving's best professional basketball game. If the Cavs figure out a way to win this series, and please understand this, they're still at Mt. Everest's base camp, but if they find a way, I have to believe that Kyrie's performance, combined with LeBron's, will go down as one of the greatest of all-time. I'd like to think that it would stand the test even if they lose, but that's not really how things work.

Whenever I talk about Kyrie with terms like "greatest," I like to talk about age. Kyrie's 24-years old, and in his fifth NBA basketball season. While his skill set is somewhat different than Stephen Curry, the talent is just as quantifiable. He's special, and while he's clearly not a point guard prototype, he may actually fit that bill better than Curry.

Remember, he's four years younger than the reigning, two-time MVP.

LeBron James does what he does with a sheer force of a category 5 hurricane. What Kyrie does is more reminiscent of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. His step-back and fade-away jumpers were like the broad strokes of the "Twelve Apostles," and his floaters are like aesthetic beauty of "The Creation of Adam." When Irving is on, I'm not sure there's a better basketball player on the planet.

Again, saying anything like that seems like a slight to a player like Curry or even LeBron himself, but it's not. There are so many layers to what Irving does when he can't miss, and what's been the most tantalizing about him as a player over the years is that it's distinctly possible that he could do it consistently.

In the midst of all this is the "too often knock" that Kyrie plays 'Hero Ball." When he's not making shots, it's a painful endeavor to watch. Kyrie hasn't been able to find his footing this year, after breaking his kneecap in last year's playoffs.

Last night, working with his 6'8" mentor, Kyrie (and LeBron) made hero ball super.

Whenever Golden State looked like they were about to make a run on the Cavs, there was Irving, burying a shot from everywhere on the court. Kyrie went 17-for-24 from the floor, and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. It was beyond special.


How do you defend that?

It's easy...you don't.

The Cavs walked into the most hostile environment in the NBA, Oracle Arena, and Kyrie went all Stephen, shutting up the privileged crowd with a taste of their own medicine.

There was no anger, although there was certainly menace to this two-balled (again, no offense Draymond) wrecking crew, who were clearly there to just get business done, and get the series back to the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena.

I have no idea what's going to happen in this series, at this point. If Kyrie and LeBron have 'figured it out,' then it's going to go seven games, and become a battle of wills and attrition. If Kevin Love can somehow find his way into this mix, then it gets even better.

But make no mistake, this road didn't get any easier. The Warriors were missing one of their top three players, and they were missing shots last night that they normally make. Yes, the Cavs played solid defense, and yes, they hit shots that they had previously been missing (especially LeBron), but the Warriors just didn't have anything in the tank.

And that's what it's going to come down to? Who's going to outlast the other? I've worried often about LeBron playing too much, or Kyrie getting hurt. I've worried about the Cavs' depth, and what would happen if someone stretches them to seven games.

Tyronn Lue's dispersal of minutes has been strange, and that continued last night, as Channing Frye received less minutes (0) than Mozgov, Dahntay Jones, James Jones and Moe Williams. Was he hurt? Did he forget they made a deal to acquire him this year?

Regardless, the Cavs will likely feel the pain of a full season, and this monumental effort, as they head to Game 6. Green is back, and will likely be motivated unlike he's ever been, and surely, Stephen Curry won't be as mediocre as he was last night.

Or are the Warriors just as tired?

Remember, this is the team that won 73-games this year, and needed seven games to beat Oklahoma City. This is the team that has had moments of struggle throughout the playoffs, that are vastly unlike anything we've seen in the regular season.

This is a team that seems a bit more human than they have at any point in the season.

Can the Cavs beat the Warriors in Game 6?



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