CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers fought their way to a 137-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals Friday night, which forced the best-of-seven series back to Oracle Arena in Oakland for tonight’s Game 5 matchup.
And in order for the Cavaliers to force The Finals back to Cleveland for Game 6, small forward LeBron James knows it will take a maximum effort against the best team in the league for the third straight season, who will go for the close-out win in front of its home fans.
“We have to bring our best game every game against this team,” James said. “Like I said before, they create so many different problems out on the floor, so much firepower, that we always have to play great in order to win.”
The last three times the Cavaliers played at Oracle Arena, including a regular-season game on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day back in January as well as Games 1 and 2 of The Finals, the Warriors dominated the pace of play and won by an average of 25.33 points.
“We didn’t play well in Game 1 or Game 2,” James said. “We have watched the film, we see what we didn’t do well, and if you don’t do something well, they will make you pay for it. So we have to be 20 times better in this building, and we understand that.
“If we don’t protect the three-point line and if we turn the ball over, then we don’t stand a chance. So we know what our keys to victory are that are going to give us the best possible chance to go back home with a Game 6. And if we don’t stick to that game plan, then we’ll be going back home without a game.”
After the Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference Championship at TD Garden in Boston late last month, James talked about how stressful it was to think about The Finals so quickly after clinching their third straight trip to the championship round.
But as the series continues, James is able to process the stress by focusing on the task at hand.
“The Playoffs (are) stressful and just the preparation, things of that nature, but that’s just from how I prepare,” James said. “There’s no added stress going on playing basketball. Your coaching staff is giving you a game plan, you just try to execute it. There’s no added stress of that.
“If you’re able to get a win or get two, get three, get four, you don’t win, I guess I’ve been a part of all of it. I don’t think you have more stress. You know what you need to do. If you’re prepared, then you’re prepared. There’s no reason to add more to it.”
And as for which team has the most pressure on it heading into Game 5, the Cavaliers, who are one win away from elimination, or the Warriors, who could win a championship in front of the home fans, James knows what he and his teammates are focused on.
“I feel like this is the game we’ve got to get, or it’s over with,” James said. “I think everybody’s feeling that way.”
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