Cavs 365 Columns

LeBron’s dramatic buzzer beater lifts Cavaliers to 3-2 lead

Lebron James has always been one to get his teammates involved, often criticized for being too passive in the biggest moments. But with the game on the line LeBron James told his teammates he got them.

The King called game.

But Game 5 did not start out well for Cleveland. Reminiscent of Game 1, the Cavaliers were slow out of the gate, falling behind by 10 points at one point.

Then LeBron, seeing his team struggling to get anything going, took the offense upon himself.  James scored the final eight points of the quarter and had 14 points total in the opening 12 minutes. Cleveland, well LeBron, cut the Pacers lead to just two.

But other than James, no one else wearing a wine and gold uniform was getting going on offense. Even the defense was off to a shaky start early in Game 5.

Cleveland’s defense was a step behind to start.  While they bottled up Victor Oladipo, others such as Thaddeus and Domantas Sabonis stepped up throughout the first half.

Both offenses were quite efficient in the 2nd quarter. Cleveland scored 26 points on 10-19 (52.6 percent) shooting, while Indiana poured in 31 points and shot 13-20 (65 percent) from the floor.

At the half Cleveland held Oladipo to just 9 points on 2-9 shooting, yet were trailing 56-49.  Meanwhile for the Cavaliers, the trio of James, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver combined for 37 of their 49 first half points.

There was an uncomfortable murmur throughout Quicken Loans Arena as both teams walked off the floor.

Then what happened at the start of the second half was both shocking and a welcomed sight. Cleveland came out with intensity and energy.  This is what Cleveland had failed to do in the first four games.

Slow starts in Games 2 and 4 almost cost Cleveland a victory and it did cost them Game 3.

In addition to James’ 15 points in the 3rd quarter, Korver scored eight points and Calderon contributed six points.  Calderon’s energy on both ends of the floor was the key. With George Hill out, Calderon stepped up in his absence and did what was asked of him.

While the offense picked up in the quarter, the defense finally showed up.

Cleveland forced Indiana into seven turnovers in the 3rd quarter and held them to 17 points on 31.2 percent shooting. In just 12 minutes their seven point deficit turned into an eight point lead.

As Indiana has done all series, they refused to go away quietly. Both Sabonis and Young again hurt the Cavaliers when they doubled Oladipo.

In turn, Cleveland’s offense became one-dimesional again in the waining moments of the game. That is now thing Cleveland will need to figure out how to correct moving forward in the playoffs.

However, Cleveland’s constant ball pressure on Oladipo seems to be wearing him out. His shooting percentage has gone down in every game and last night was just 2-15 for 12 points.

With the score tied late, LeBron had the ball in his hands looking to make a play. But instead he turned the ball over and gave Indiana a prime chance to win the game.

James, who was on Oladipo, allowed him to get a step but recovered with ease and denied the shot at the rim. After grabbing control of the rebound, Cleveland would call timeout. With three seconds to get off a shot, it was likely the fate of the game would rest in LeBron’s hands.

With James being a supreme facilitator, it seemed as if he’d look for a teammate who would be open. Instead, LeBron took the ball and sunk a buzzer beater in dramatic fashion.

The emotion that poured out of James as he jumped on the scorers’ table hadn’t been seen since Cleveland won the NBA FInals back in 2016.

There is still work to be done.  Game 6 will be the toughest one to date, as the Pacers do not want to end their season in front of the home town fans.

You can tell how badly James wants to win. He knows the odds are stacked against him, they have been since day one. But with the game and the series hanging in the balance, James did what only the great ones do. Get the ball, take the shot, win the game.

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