CLEVELAND -- With a roster led by small forward LeBron James and complemented by All-Stars in point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Kevin Love along with a center with a non-stop motor in Tristan Thompson and a sharp-shooting guard in J.R. Smith, adversity is not something the Cleveland Cavaliers face often.
But adversity is exactly what the Cavaliers are facing against the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers lost the first three games of the series, including a tightly-contested Game 3 matchup in Cleveland Wednesday, but they responded in record-breaking fashion in a 137-116 victory over the Warriors in front of the home fans at Quicken Loans Arena Friday and forced the best-of-seven series back to Oracle Arena in Oakland for Game 5 Monday night.
“I wish I had a true answer for that, but every game is do or die, and we understand that,” Irving said. “We’re ready to live in it, and it was great to see Kyle, as well as Deron, as well as T-Thomp just throw themselves into the game and understand the importance of it.
“This is The Finals, man. A minute here, four minutes here, a rebound here, maybe a tech or two here, it matters. They brought it. I’m super proud of those guys, of all my teammates, but more or less, those guys coming in and giving us energy, and as well as R.J. coming in and playing huge. And then, everybody just collectively coming together, so it was good.”
The Cavaliers got a monumental effort from the starting lineup, as four of them reached double figures in scoring and combined 109 of the team’s 137 points.
“We’re a resilient group, resilient team,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said. “We have been in this situation before. We know that. Listen, every year’s different, every playoff series, every game, but we just are a team that never -- we never count ourselves out.
“We feel like any game that we walk on the floor, we have a great game plan and we expect to win, but we just continue to have that fire, continue to be resilient, but right now, it’s just becoming one game at a time. One quarter, each possession being huge for us, because that can make or break a team.”
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.
“We understand how special that team is down there,” Irving said. “We don’t knock them off of taking one loss or us getting one win. So we have to be even more locked in, even more focused, but if we come with the same mentality that we came with, we’ll be in a better position in Oakland.”
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