On May 5th in 2018, LeBron James banked in a runner at the buzzer to help the Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Toronto Raptors 105-103 in Game 3 and take a dominating 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"Tie game, down one," James said. "I live for those moments."
James finished with 38 points (14-of-26 FG; 9-of-11 FT), seven assists, six rebounds, and three steals in 41 minutes of playing time. He received much-needed support from a couple of starters in Kevin Love (21 points, 16 rebounds) and Kyle Korver (18 points - 6-of-8 FG) as the Cavaliers won their ninth straight and 11th in the last 13 postseason games against the Toronto franchise.
The Cavaliers led the game by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter. In fact, the Raptors were down 14 as the final period began but the visitors clawed back and finally tied the game up at 103 with an OG Anunoby 3-pointer with just eight seconds left.
Then, James received the inbounded pass in the backcourt, brought the ball up the floor and drove left for the one-handed game-winning runner.
Here are a few emotional images after James' game-winner on the celebration at the Quicken Loans Arena:
At the time of this game, this was James' fifth career postseason game-winning buzzer-beater and the second of the 2018 playoffs.
This was just one game of James' herculean 2018 postseason. He more or less single-handedly led the Cavaliers to the 2018 NBA Finals and averaged a near triple-double in 22 games during the 2018 postseason - 34.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 9.0 assists.
He scored 40 or more in eight of the 22 games, scored 30 or more in 12 of the 22, and registered four triple-doubles.
The Cavs went on to sweep the Raptors (4-0) for the second-straight post-season, before losing in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors.
Other notable events on May 5th
- In 1969, Bill Russell and Sam Jones ended their NBA careers by leading the Boston Celtics to the championship with a 108-106 Game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the 11th championship in 13 years for the Celtics franchise.
- In 1981, in Game 1 of the Finals against the Houston Rockets, anticipating his jumper might be off, Larry Bird raced to the right baseline, grabbed the rebound with his right hand, switched the ball into his left hand as his momentum was taking him out of bounds and somehow laid it in the basket. Red Auerbach called it the greatest play he had ever seen not just for Bird's physical ability but for his instinct to get in position for the rebound. The Celtics won Game 1, 98-95 and eventually clinched the 1981 Championship in six games.
- In 1986, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier and Pete Maravich were among five men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- In 1995, Clyde Drexler (41) and Hakeem Olajuwon (40) combine for 81 points to lead the Rockets to a 123-106 Game 4 win against the Utah Jazz in the first round. It marked the third time in NBA Playoff history that a pair of teammates had both scored 40 or more in the same game.
- In 1998, the Atlanta Hawks' Dikembe Mutombo was named Defensive Player of the Year. He became the first player in NBA history to win the award three times.
Other Game-winning buzzer-beaters on May 5th
Derrick McKey vs. Houston Rockets in 1989
Notable playoff eliminations on May 5th
- In 2012, in a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Finals, the defending champion Dallas Mavericks are swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
What a finish in @KingJames' first playoff series win 🔥- NBA TV (@NBATV) April 23, 2020
Cavaliers/Wizards, 2006 EC 1st Round Game 6 - 11am ET on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/ZgAr9VFXd6
- In 2006, LeBron James recorded his first career Playoff series victory as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Washington Wizards 114-113 in overtime in Game 6.
- In 1995, Shaquille O'Neal scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Orlando Magic registered their first playoff series win in franchise history as they eliminated the Boston Celtics in the first round with a 95-92 Game 4 victory.
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