LeBron James is such a physical specimen that opponents rarely overwhelm him with brute strength and athleticism, but Harrison Barnes did just that when he rebounded a Stephen Curry miss and finished a putback dunk over an outstretched James.
Barnes, who was also awarded a foul, reached the top of his jump just after James rotated to help with time winding down in the second quarter. James tried to grab Barnes to no avail, and the Warriors tied the game at 50. Barnes also hit a free throw to push the Warriors to a 51–50 halftime advantage over the Cavaliers. Golden State, led by Stephen Curry's 17 fourth-quarter points, beat Cleveland 104–91 to take a 3-2 Finals lead and move one win away from an NBA title.
But Barnes didn't stop there. In a game centered on small ball, Barnes caught a pass with Cavaliers big man Timofey Mozgov waiting under the rim. He was flanked by forward Mike Miller.
Barnes needed only a split second to decide to attack both men. He did so with force, floating up with his left hand and crashing down for a dramatic slam over Mozgov and Miller.
The emphatic dunk from Barnes gave the Warriors a 75-69 lead in the third quarter. Barnes was awarded another foul shot but failed to finish the potential three-point play. Barnes finished Game 5 with eight points and a team-leading 10 rebounds. Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard recently wrote on Barnes's ability to play against much-bigger opponents and his training sessions with Warriors executive Jerry West.
- DeAntae Prince