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.
SI's Best Photos From Game 5 of the NBA Finals
Steph Curry played like the league's MVP in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, scoring 37 points to move Golden State to within one victory of claiming the NBA title.
Steph Curry drained a three for the ages late in the fourth quarter, dribbling behind his back and crossing over Matthew Dellavedova before stepping back and taking the shot. Curry sank seven three-pointers on the night.
Andre Iguodala gets a high-five from Steph Curry after an offensive rebound and put back in which he also drew a foul. Iguodala finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Shaun Livingston drives against LeBron James and James Jones. The Warriors will try to win their first title since 1975 on Tuesday night in Cleveland.
LeBron James directs traffic for the Cavs. The four-time MVP scored 40 points and added 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
J.R. Smith pressures Steph Curry on a shot. Curry converted 13-of-23 from the field.
Tristan Thompson keeps Andre Iguodala from defending LeBron James.
The Warriors got three-pointers out of five players, including this one from Klay Thompson, who scored 12 points.
Tristan Thompson was Cleveland's second-leading scorer -- 19 points in 40 minutes of action.
Andre Iguodala lunges at LeBron James on this shot attempt. James made 15 of his 34 attempts and sank seven free throws.
LeBron James scored or assisted on 16 of Cleveland's 17 field goals in the half. He struggled to supply the same power in the third quarter, scoring just four points and handing out one assists. (Text credit: AP)
Cavs coach David Blatt was asked repeatedly in the postgame media conference about giving Timofey Mozgov only nine minutes of playing time. Blatt's response was that he thought a smaller lineup gave Cleveland it's best chance of winning.
Matthew Dellavedova played 42 minutes but scored only five points.
Metallica played the national anthem before Game 5.
The scene inside Oracle Arena.