OAKLAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers are still alive. Facing elimination for the first time this year, the Cavs took advantage of Draymond Green‘s absence and sent The Finals back to Cleveland behind huge games from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
One stat stood out from the rest in the Cavs’ 112-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 on Monday.
8 – Shots James made from outside the paint (on 19 attempts).
That’s twice as many as he’s made in any other playoff game this year (he hit four six times), the most he’s made in a playoff game since Game 2 of the 2014 Finals (42 playoff games ago), and the second most he’s made in a game all season.
James’ jump shot has been an issue since the start of last year’s playoffs. He shot 27 percent from outside the paint in last year’s Finals and was 9-for-28 from outside the paint through Game 4 of this year’s series.
His poor shooting has allowed the Warriors to play him soft on the perimeter and kept him from really breaking out offensively. James can destroy you inside, but if his shot isn’t falling, he has a ceiling offensively, especially against a defender like Andre Iguodala.
On Monday, James broke out and Irving’s shot-making was even more impressive. The pair scored 41 points apiece, the first time in Finals history and just the fifth time in playoff history that teammates have each put up 40-plus in the same game.
The Warriors clearly missed Green, especially on defense. But James’ jumper finally falling for him was independent of Green’s status in Game 5. His 19 attempts from outside the paint were also a season high, and if his jumper continues to fall on Thursday, the Cavs have the ability to force a Game 7.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA