Although it ended as a 13-point win for the Golden State Warriors, 20 lead changes and 10 ties during Game 5 of the NBA Finals painted a more accurate picture of how hard the Cleveland Cavaliers fought.
After the Cavs matched the Warriors’ smaller lineup in the opening minutes of the encounter, LeBron James moved to the centre position and turned in yet another Herculean effort for his hometown club.
However, 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists were simply not enough to drag his depleted squad over the finishing line, leaving Cleveland one game away from defeat and yet to win a major sporting title.
While James toiled, Steph Curry, the Warriors’ leader, dazzled. The regular-season MVP scored 37 points and drained seven of his 13 three-point attempts to pace Golden State’s victory, receiving ample support from his teammates along the way.
Four other Warriors scored in double figures aside from Curry, as the stronger, deeper roster the club has at its disposal starts to grind their opponents down.
12 of the last 14 sides to have won Game 5 in the new 2-2-1-1-1 Finals schedule have gone to claim ultimate glory, so the 1/20 about the Warriors landing their first championship since 1975 looks about right.
The simple presence of James makes 10/1 on the Cavaliers an intriguing prospect though. After all, the last team to rally from a 3-2 Finals deficit to claim the title was led by the four-time MVP winner, when his Miami Heat side beat the San Antonio Spurs two years ago.
And, as the man himself said following the loss in Oakland: “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world.”
This one isn’t over.
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