LeBron James and Kyrie Irving came into Golden State with a palpable sense of purpose — and suspended Draymond Green wasn’t there to prick it with his defense and attitude. James and Irving scored a remarkable 73% of the Cavaliers points in the convincing 112-97 Game 5 victory. But that wasn’t the only astonishing statistic in this game, which many expected would be the last of the series. Here’s what made the difference in the game: Cleveland beat the Warriors in fast break points 28-9.
Despite nearly even rebounding totals (Cavs 41, Warriors 43), the Cavaliers were able to run out on the usually stingy Warriors defense and stretch the court with great efficiency. The Warriors, who like to force other teams to match their speed by going “small ball,” looked far slower all night. “We weren’t very good defensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We obviously knew we were without Draymond, so there’s no point in harping on that. We had to play better, and we didn’t.” Getting beat is one thing, but getting beat down the court repeatedly is not a common trait in champions. In Game 4, Cleveland got just six fast break points against a Warriors team with all its parts.