It turns out the 2015 NBA Finals is not just a LeBron James show after all.
2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry scored 37 points—including seven three-pointers—to lift his Golden State Warriors to a 104-91 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 2015 NBA Finals on June 14, per ESPN.
A sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena witnessed Curry’s spectacular end-game heroics to put the Warriors just one game away from clinching their first NBA title in 40 years. He connected on a variety of shots from inside and outside, completely playing the Cavaliers’ defense like a puppet, per ESPN.
— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) June 15, 2015
Curry’s performance overshadowed another triple-double from Cleveland’s LeBron James, who finished Game 5 with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
In spite of the loss, James remained unfazed.
“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” he told the media after Game 5, per ESPN.
The ESPN update says the Cavaliers got the most out of James, but just couldn’t keep up with the healthier Warriors. Cleveland has been without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and it has utilized just seven or eight players in the Finals against Golden State.
Once the final horn sounded, Curry spoke with ESPN about his performance and the Warriors’ unenviable task of having to stymie James, a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion:
It was a fun moment, but it will only mean something—and I’ll probably have a better answer for that question after we win that championship—but signature moments only come for players who are holding the trophy.
He (James) has the ball in his hands a lot. Stick with the program. Don’t get discouraged if he makes shots. He’s going to.
Over the course of 48 minutes, we hope we wear him down to make it very tough on him.
Curry was so spent after the game, he suffered from dehydration.
ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss says Curry seemed uncomfortable after his post-game press conference on Sunday. His father, retired sharpshooter Dell Curry, and Warriors security guard Ralph Walker, escorted the 2014-15 NBA MVP into the locker room where he drank fluids to remedy the situation.
Curry, who played 30 of Game 5’s first 33 minutes, was watching ESPN’s “SportsCenter” inside the locker room. He is expected to suit up for Golden State in Game 6 on June 16, per Strauss.
That update bodes well for the Warriors, who now have a 3-2 series lead.
According to ESPN, teams who won Game 5 in a 2-2 series following a 2-2-1-1-1 format have gone on to win the championship an astonishing 12 of 14 times.
Fans were treated to 20 lead changes and 10 ties as well as an entertaining sequence which had James knocking down a 34-foot three-pointer near the top of the key which was followed by triples from Curry and Klay Thompson, per ESPN.
— NBA (@NBA) June 15, 2015
Warriors shooting guard Andre Iguodala also got in on the act when he buried his own trifecta and then converted on a left-handed follow-up shot while getting fouled by Tristan Thompson. Iguodala was so excited, he made his way to mid-court to scan the adoring home crowd, per ESPN.
Curry then hit a tough step-back three-pointer off Matthew Dellavedova for a 96-86 advantage with 2:44 left on the game clock. James answered back with his own triple before Curry all but put the game away with another three-pointer with just 1:12 remaining, per ESPN.
Draymond Green added 16 points and nine rebounds while Iguodala had a nice all-around game with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Backup guard Leandro Barbosa had 13 points for Golden State, per ESPN.
Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds while J.R. Smith had 14 points for Cleveland.
Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers will be at Quicken Loans Arena at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 16.
The Parting Shot
The simple takeaway from Game 5 is this: Stephen Curry proved that if LeBron James can carry his team, so can he.
The one clear advantage Curry has is his team is healthier. As the ESPN update mentions, the Cavaliers lack of depth came back to haunt them in Game 5. Curry overcame a bout of dehydration to will his team to victory.
James, whose playoff heroics are arguably the most epic in recent memory, also has had some injury issues to deal with. One of these was when he injured his left foot during overtime of the Cavs’ 114-111 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 25.
That was the same game James shook off an 0-for-1o start to finish with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. He’s turning out to be the modern game’s version of Oscar Robertson.
All we’re saying is Curry and James have exemplified what true MVPs are—gutty, resilient and relentless. They simply refuse to lose.
Right now, the advantage goes to Curry because the Golden State Warriors are in a good position to win their first NBA crown since 1975.
However, they have to do it on the road. Expect LeBron and Co. to make it anything but easy for Golden State.
Should Curry explode again and the Warriors come out victorious, it simply means their time has come. It took Moses and the Israelites 40 years to wander in the wilderness. Their misery eventually ended after a long, long time.
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) June 15, 2015
That time could come for the Warriors sooner than later.
However, James has other plans. He’s dead-set on winning an NBA title for the city of Cleveland all by himself if he has to. Remember, the last time Cleveland won a professional sports title was in 1964.
That was courtesy of the Cleveland Browns, who beat the Baltimore Colts in that year’s NFL Championship Game. LBJ is seeking to do what guys like Jim Brown, Frank Ryan and Paul Warfield have done for Cleveland: Win a pro sports crown.
If the Cavaliers manage to extend the series to a seventh game, we will all be in for a pulsating finish in the Bay Area.
Buckle up and enjoy the rest of the ride.