Random dribbles before Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and host Warriors on Sunday:
. On June 11, 1997, Michael Jordan had no business being on the court. It was Game 5 of the Finals, with Jordan’s Bulls playing the Jazz. The series was tied at 2-all and the game was taking place in Utah. Jordan was nauseous and sported a temperature of 103.
2. The previous night, Jordan’s sleep was interrupted by sweating, aching and shaking. Better still is this description from NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, who covered the game: “What I recall from my vantage point in the auxiliary media seating — at the top of the Delta Center’s lower bowl — was that Jordan appeared loose, jangly, weak. His whole demeanor seemed a little fuzzy around the edges, his cuts not sharp and, even from that distance, a vacant sort of expression on his face. Only in close-ups, though, and mostly in replays could I see how glazed over his eyes were and how profusely he was sweating.”
3. To put it mildly, Jordan was sick. But Jordan was also the game’s best player. And this was his team’s biggest game. Things were tied at 2-all. It was Game 5. It was on the road. Michael Jordan delivered.
4. It was truly an amazing game, a groundbreaking performance — as Jordan finished with 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting, as well as seven rebounds and five assists. Jordan and the Bulls also overcame a 13-point deficit in the first quarter, muscling their way to an 88-85 win. Again, it all happened in Game 5 on the road.
5. Now, LeBron James isn’t sick (as far as I know). But he is the Jordan of this era. And James’ Cavs are in a similar predicament. The Finals are tied 2-all with LeBron’s team on the road. And for the Cavs to have a real chance, LeBron will likely need to give another MJ-like performance. A performance such as the one MJ gave with the flu.
6. Of course, it doesn’t take a basketball genius to see that. James scored 44, 39 and 40 points, respectively, in the first three games. The Cavs probably should’ve won the first and did win the next two. But an exhausted James went for just 20 points in Game 4 — and the Cavs lost by 21. Feel free to do the math on that.
7. OK, I’ll do it for you: For the Cavs to have a real chance, James probably needs to score 40. Or at least something close.
SOURCE: Sam Amico
Fox Sports Ohio