LeBron James kept the Cleveland Cavaliers alive in the NBA Finals with what can only described as a historic Game 5 performance on Monday night from Oracle Arena.
Facing the reigning NBA champions on the road in an elimination game, James produced 41 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks, while hitting four threes and having just two turnovers. The Cavaliers ran away with the win in the second half, as Cleveland outscored the Golden State Warriors by a 51-36 margin after a 61-61 first half.
James was divine amongst a chorus of boos.
According to ESPN, James became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal (2001) to have at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in an NBA Finals game, and he also joined Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in history to score 40 points and grab 15 rebounds in an elimination game in the Finals.
For reference’s sake, consider that no player had a game with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and five assists during the NBA’s 2015-16 regular season.
But LeBron is no stranger to these kind of hero games in the postseason:
These kind of performances are not new for LeBron James pic.twitter.com/gZPJYIgLa5
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2016
James also shared in the history of Monday night’s win.
The King and Kyrie Irving (41 points) became the first set of teammates to each score at least 40 points in an NBA Finals game. Their 82 combined points rank as the third most by two teammates in a Finals game.
The explosion from Cleveland’s two superstars allowed the Cavs to beat the Warriors at Oracle Arena, where Golden State has only lost four times in 2015-16 and only twice this postseason.
The Cavaliers are still alive in the NBA Finals, now down three games to two and heading back to Cleveland for Game 6. While no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals, hope for a comeback has been delivered—thanks in large part to LeBron James’ otherworldly production in Game 5.