CLEVELAND -- The three-point shot was one of the main fixtures of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense throughout the regular season and the first three rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, but the opposite was true over the first three games of The Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
But with their backs against the wall, the Cavaliers came out shooting and knocked down 24 three-pointers in a 137-116 victory over the Warriors, which forced the best-of-seven series back to Oracle Arena in Oakland for Game 5 Monday night.
“We feel like there’s times throughout the series where we got consistent looks from the outside and maybe didn’t knock them down,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said. “We felt particularly the same thing in Game 3 here at home. But they’re great at defending both in the full court, fast break, and in the half court, whether it’s the paint or the three-point line. I mean, field goal percentage defense, I believe they’re first in the league, so you can’t overlook that.
“LeBron and Kyrie pushing the pace like that and you’ve got a freight train and a guy that’s probably the best ball handler in the world playing downhill like that and finishing and getting to the free-throw line and being so aggressive, I think that opened up a lot of shots for us. And we were making the extra pass and shooting with a lot of confidence.”
As a team, the Cavaliers converted 24 of their 45 three-point attempts (53.3 percent), and set NBA Finals records for three-pointers made (24), points in a quarter (49) and in a half (86) on the way to the victory, one in which they led from their first shot to the finish.
“I thought we got some of the same shots throughout the course of the series,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We haven’t been making shots. We haven’t been shooting the ball well. We shoot the ball well. These are the type of explosions we can have offensively, so we have to make shots, and we understand that.”
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving scored 40 points on 15-of-27 shooting, including a seven-of-12 performance from three-point range, which came on the heels of an 0-for-7 showing from long distance in the Game 3 loss Wednesday night.
Irving added seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 40 minutes of action.
Power forward Kevin Love tallied 23 points, and 18 of those markers came from three-point range, where he was six of eight. Shooting guard J.R. Smith was almost as effective from long distance, as he buried five of his nine looks from beyond the arc.
“Especially getting off to a good start, that gets everybody into it, including our crowd, and we feed off that,” Love said. “We have always played well here, and we use that to our advantage.”
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