In certain moments, Game 5 of the NBA Finals felt like a duel between Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP, and LeBron James, the consummate MVP. With a wide enough lens, however, we can see that game for what it really was: The trial of a single great player against an opponent in constant recovery. The Warriors take hits and adapt around them. They weather runs with the knowledge that theirs will stretch further. They accept an opponent’s best in understanding that theirs will burn brighter. The Warriors endured another wonderful performance from James in Game 5 and returned every point, rebound, and assist in kind as a collective—an inspired showing that led to a 104–91 victory and a 3-2 Finals lead that has them one win away from their first NBA title since 1975.
The Warriors' offense, while slowed in its pace, looked the healthiest it has all series. Curry’s jumper practically leapt from his hand in sharp contrast to the antsy shooting we saw in the Finals’ initial games. Credit goes to more than rhythm; Golden State has worked hard to vary Curry’s means of attack once it became clear that Cleveland could offer genuine resistance. The result is a version of the MVP so assertive (17 of his 37 points came in the fourth quarter) with and without the ball, that he carved up the best defensive team of the playoffs. Matthew Dellavedova’s days as a folk hero are finished.