CLEVELAND -- If the Cleveland Cavaliers are to extend their postseason by another game, coach Tyronn Lue believes they must build off of their Game 3 effort heading into an elimination contest against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland tonight.
To Lue, the Cavaliers showed plenty of heart and effort in Game 3, despite not being able to close out the win, and instead, surrendering 11 straight points to the Warriors, who earned a 118-113 come-from-behind victory and took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I liked the way we competed,” Lue said. “I thought we played hard. I thought we really scrapped, but we just have to clean up a few mistakes. Fouling teams in the penalty, offensive rebounds, getting back in transition, things like that, but for our overall grit and toughness, I liked the way we competed.”
Last summer, the Cavaliers made history when they won twice at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the Warriors lost only three times previously between the regular season and postseason, and overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Now, this season, the Cavaliers have another chance at history, as they would be the first team ever to overcome an 0-3 deficit in the NBA Finals.
“It's a step in the right direction,” Lue said of what a Game 4 win would mean to the Cavaliers. “We're not going to give in. We're going to keep competing. We had a chance to win, and if we come out with the fight and intensity that we played with last game, clean up a few mistakes, then we have a chance to win on Friday. So by no means are we giving in. We're going to be ready to play on Friday.”
The Cavaliers did not score a point over the final three-plus minutes of Game 3, and a late spurt from small forward Kevin Durant gave the Warriors the win.
As the clock ticked under a minute, Warriors small forward Kevin Durant secured a defensive rebound and dribbled the ball over to the left wing, where he pulled up and knocked down a 26-foot three-pointer, which gave Golden State a 114-113 lead over the Cavaliers.
Then, Durant and point guard Stephen Curry closed out the game with two free throws each.
“We made some mistakes coming down the stretch that we know we have to be better with,” Lue said. “We talked about this before, but you can't make these mistakes against this team. They're too good. Every time you make a mistake, they make you pay.
“We have to be better in our execution down the stretch. But like I said, overall our fight and the way we competed was great. So if we come out with that same effort on Friday, I feel confident we can get a win.
“That's the toughest part about this team. Against other teams, you can make these mistakes, but against them, you cannot. And every time you do, they make you pay. So just have to clean up those things, and we'll be fine.”