CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers had their backs against the wall heading into Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and they certainly played like it in front of the home fans at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Friday night.
Facing elimination after losing the first three games of The Finals, the Cavaliers summoned the fight of a defending champion with no room for error and hustled their way to a 137-116 victory over the Warriors, who had won an NBA-record 15 straight postseason games coming into Friday’s contest.
With the win over the Warriors, the Cavaliers forced a Game 5 at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Monday night.
“The magnitude of the games, especially the last game, it hit me in a very deep place,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said. “You want to play extremely well and you understand that's a do-or-die game. You know, you hear some chatter going on throughout the Warriors locker room in terms of them trying to end it here, and it was another do-or-die game for us, and we had to leave it all out there.”
Irving scored a game-high 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.
“I was quoted in saying that there was no other option, and that was completely true, and that still stands,” Irving said. “We still have to go up there, Game 5, which is going to be unbelievable, unbelievable atmosphere. We know they're going to come out with a hit-first mentality, but we’ve got to hit them first.
“We're relishing the challenge and welcome all challenges that we'll be faced with throughout the game. Glad that we got the monkey off our back in terms of just getting one win in this series, in terms of going against this great team, but you don't want to ever take it for granted. We will watch film and see where we can get better.”
Prior to Game 4, there was plenty of chatter nationally that the Cavaliers were finished and it was a mere formality for the Warriors to go through another 48 minutes and become the first team in NBA history to go 16-0 in the postseason.
According to Irving, “all of” the talk bothered him after seeing it on social media, and gave the Cavaliers an extra boost heading into Game 4.
“It's part of the game,” Irving said. “I understand that, but we knew what we were faced with. That was what it was, but then, you add, of course, some chatter in there, and that adds some extra motivation.
“You give us a day in-between, and we were ready to come out, especially me because that taste wouldn't have been the same if we would have lost and they would have celebrated on our home floor, so I'll just leave that at that.”
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