LeBron puts Cavaliers in control vs. Pacers with controversial Game 5

LeBron James put the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back for Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers, leading the way with 44 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and one controversial chase down block. The Cavaliers hold a 3-2 series lead after defeating Indiana 98-95, but the Pacers seem convinced James’ block was goaltending, and the argument could be made that it was the play that changed the series.

Cleveland held a six-point lead late in Wednesday’s contest after James hit a pair of free throws, but the Cavaliers went on a scoring drought for the final 4:38, allowing Indiana to erase the deficit. With the score tied and the seconds ticking away in the final minute of regulation, Victor Oladipo appeared to have a shot at a layup to put the Pacers in front, but his attempt was swatted off the backboard by James and Cleveland gained possession with three seconds left. The wild ending was capped by a James buzzer beater from 3-point range, sending Quicken Loans Arena into a frenzy - and Indiana to the replay booth.

Oladipo made his feelings known at the postgame press conference, telling reporters he knew James’ block was a goaltend. And Oladipo wasn’t alone in this opinion. His view was vocally supported by his teammates including Lance Stephenson, who has a history of agitating James. It was also supported by the replay evidence, which shows the ball touching the backboard before James makes contact, although the play could not be officially reviewed because there was no whistle on the block.

Oladipo struggled through his worst game of the series offensively on Wednesday, and the Pacers likely wouldn’t have needed him to hit a last-second layup if he had shot better than 2-of-15 (1-of-7 from 3-point range) in the contest, although he also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Indiana is trailing in the series for the first time after losing a pair of close games, but interior scoring remains a strength, with another 42 points in the paint in Game 5. Domantas Sabonis had a team-high 22 points off the bench.

The series shifts back to Indiana for Game 6 on Friday with the Cavaliers in control thanks to the heroics of James. The Pacers might be right about his block, but they also had no answer for his game-winning shot, and unless they figure out a way to slow him down, they might not see a Game 7.