LeBron James Buzzer-Beater Powers Cavaliers Past Pacers in Game 5 Win

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James celebrates after scoring the game-winning shot in the second half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 98-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

LeBron James has never lost a first-round playoff series, and he moved one step closer to keeping that streak alive behind some signature heroics as the Cleveland Cavaliers nabbed a dramatic 98-95 Game 5 win over the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night. 

After Cleveland choked away a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, James came up with a game-saving block when he denied Victor Oladipo's go-ahead layup attempt with five seconds remaining:

On the ensuing possession, James received the in-bounds pass, took a few quick dribbles to position himself atop the arc and fired home a game-winning triple as time expired: 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Wednesday's buzzer-beater was the fourth of James' career and his first since 2015 against the Chicago Bulls: 

It also pushed him past Michael Jordan in terms of clutch postseason efficiency: 

All told, LeBron finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, which resulted from a dominant second half. 

Before stringing together a sequence for the ages in the game's waning seconds, James proved prolific during a third quarter that saw Cleveland outscore Indiana by 15 after entering the half down seven. During that crucial 12-minute stretch, he scored 15 points and assisted on 12 more in what was the start of a signature showing, as the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps observed: 

The Cavaliers now own a 3-2 series lead and will have an opportunity to send the Pacers packing Friday when the series shifts back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Game 6.  

When that game tips off, Indiana will need more from Oladipo—who scored 12 points on 2-of-15 shooting Wednesday.  

The Most Improved Player of the Year front-runner is 12-of-50 from the floor over his past three games and has entered a clear funk, as Yahoo Sports' Chris Mannix and Fox Sports' Nick Wright observed: 

StatMuse provided an overview of the inconsistencies that have plagued Oladipo dating back to Game 3: 

Had it not been for another shaky outing, the Pacers may very well be in the driver's seat. 

Domantas Sabonis produced his finest effort of the series with 22 points off the bench, and he played an instrumental role in helping build the Pacers' halftime edge thanks to easy conversions against switches in the post, according to Basketball Insiders' Spencer Davies: 

Plus, the Cavaliers didn't have much going their way outside of James. 

While Kevin Love crashed the boards on both ends (10 rebounds), he managed a meager 11 points on 11 shots. JR Smith, meanwhile, went scoreless in 33 minutes. James outscored the Cavaliers' other four starters 44-36. 

That discrepancy was hardly ideal, but it was enough to put the Cavs ahead. 

Now in control, James and Co. will try to avoid a return trip to Quicken Loans Arena with a win Friday night. If they can break through in enemy territory, a second-round showdown against the Toronto Raptors or Washington Wizards will await in Round 2. 

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