For Kyrie Irving And The Cavaliers, The Safe Space Disappears Tonight
With their groins safe from flying fists, knees, and feet, the Cleveland Cavaliers roamed freely in the paint Monday night in Oakland, turning their flight home from a potential finger-pointing circus into one more #businesstrip.
Serial genital agitator Draymond Green, rightfully suspended for earning his fourth flagrant foul of the postseason, was safely tucked away in a "luxury" suite at the nearby Oakland Athletics stadium, leaving the flopping Anderson Varejao as the most dangerous limb-thrasher on the court. Green's absence, like a Bachelorette bully finally sent home without a rose, transformed Oracle Arena into a safe space for the pajama-clad Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James found this to be an optimal atmosphere. Each feasted on a depleted Warriors defense stocked with stiff backups and smallish guards masquerading as big boy defenders.
Irving, known for ignoring his teammates when the feeling's right, went berserk on contested shots near the basket, finishing 10 for 14 with hands in his face. James, whose most glaring on-court weakness is jump shooting, made a bunch of jump shots.
The Green-less Warriors opted to give LeBron his choice of deep open looks rather than take their chances against his aggressive drives. Usually this an intelligent strategy! But on Monday night, James made them pay.
With just one stellar defender to contend with, Irving and James poured in 41 points each, which is apparently some sort of record. Their play alone kept the Cavs alive in these Finals. Kevin Love probably wishes that wasn't the case.
In front of millions of TV viewers and even more internet jamokies like myself, Love had the worst night of his professional life on Monday. Once an All-Star whose value was equal to that of the number one overall pick, Love has been reduced to the sad punch line of out-of-context Vines.
Two days after essentially siding with the Warriors on LeBron's infamous step-over, Love made one basket, fouled four times, and turned the ball over twice in 33 minutes. It's very likely he would lose one-on-one to Charles Barkley at the streetball court in Space Jam.
But barring any rogue street-thwapping in the next few hours, Draymond Green will return to the Warriors' starting lineup tonight and dance on the graves of Cleveland fans, most of whom will die of heartbreak as the buzzer sounds. |ES|
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Game 5 of the NBA Finals airs tonight at 8PM CT on ABC. Header image: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images