Kyrie Irving’s first three NBA Finals games didn’t go quite as planned—his first, in 2015, ended prematurely due to a fractured kneecap, and in the next two, earlier this June, the 24-year-old shot just 33% from the field and totaled 36 points.
Then, he caught fire in Games 3 and 4, and in Game 5, he transformed into a behemoth.
Irving totaled 41 points in the Cavaliers’ 112–97 Game 5 win over the Warriors, extending the series one more game, at 3–2. He dazzled with his handle, getting to the basket, and effortlessly hit from deep, ending with five threes on seven attempts.
In a back-and-forth second quarter, Irving answered a red-hot Klay Thompson with some big buckets.
By the fourth, Kyrie was unchained, and hit his two most impressive buckets of the night. One, against Thompson, came falling away after a dizzying spin move.
On the other, which also came at Thompson’s expense, Irving exhibited superb ball control and drilled another fading jumper.
Irving, together with LeBron James (41 points), became the first two teammates in Finals history to score at least 40 points in a game.
Game 6 will take place in Cleveland on Thursday night.