Horry Scale: LeBron James wins Game 5 at the buzzer, puts Cleveland Cavaliers up 3-2 in series
Cavs' superstar nails fourth playoff game-winning buzzer-beater of career
Matt Petersen, NBA.com
A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
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We’ve seen it before, but it never gets old: LeBron James for the win. The four-time Kia MVP and three-time NBA champion rose, shot and hit a 3-pointer from straightaway as time expired on Wednesday night, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a 3-2 first-round series lead over the Indiana Pacers.
The shot served as an exclamation point for yet another dominant postseason chapter from James: 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 42 minutes of work. Check out our series coverage for all the goodies of Cavs-Pacers, but for now, we’ll focus on the biggest shot of the game.
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DIFFICULTY: After making the game-saving block on one end, the Cavaliers had three seconds remaining to break a 95-95 tie. The Cavs’ out-of-bounds play snagged Thaddeus Young on an off-ball screen, giving James the breathing room he needed for the catch, two dribbles, and a clean look while drifting to his left. He could have been more tightly defended, but the shot was far from easy.
GAME SITUATION: The series was tied 2-2 entering Wednesday night, and the Cavs appeared in serious danger of heading back to Indianapolis one game away from elimination. The Cavaliers’ franchise and its star player were very close to confronting difficult offseason questions about what’s next for each of them. Instead, both parties get to bask in another timeless playoff moment and keep their postseason hopes alive.
CELEBRATION: For a 15-year veteran, James sure knows how to enjoy the moment. The 33-year-old backpedaled after shooting it, raised his arms when it went in, then turned and gave a sky-high body-bump to the first teammate to greet him.
It didn’t stop there, either. James jumped on top of the scorer’s table and incited his fans to greater celebrations. Then his teammates doused him with a bevy of icy drinks in the middle of a national television interview. Safe to say Cleveland and the state of Ohio loves their home-grown hero.
— NBA (@NBA) April 26, 2018
GRADE: Playoffs. National television. Series tied. The best player of his generation. You’d have to make some extremely specific and hypothetical tweaks to improve this one. Five Horrys.