no avatar

Tyronn Lue says 'Believeland' won't give up in Finals as Cavaliers find motivation against Warriors in all corners

By Joe Vardon • Jun 10, 2017 at 8:30 PM

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers play the best when the odds are the longest, and they don't get any longer than trailing the Warriors 3-0 in the Finals.

And it was not lost on them that the Warriors wanted specifically to wrap up the Finals in Cleveland. Yes, that would've meant uncorking a champagne bottle or two inside The Q.

Somewhere in between there -- from thriving in the worst possible situation to breaking up the Warriors' party -- the Cavs found what they needed to rout the Warriors 137-116 in Game 4 of the Finals. Whether they can keep that mojo and that anger going is another matter.

"Believeland is not going to give up, and we're going to keep fighting," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "We're going to keep scrapping."

This is the team, the Cavs, that became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals last year. Against the Warriors. It's true, no team has come back from 0-3, not just in the Finals but in the playoffs, period. Zero and 126 is the record.

So if history is any guide, this series still belongs to the Warriors. All the Cavs did was prolong the inevitable, and break up a little history along the way. Golden State could've been the first team in history to go undefeated in the playoffs.

But if you're a Cav and you reject the notion that this series has already been decided, then you're of the belief that Game 4 was the last possible moment to swing into action.

Kyrie Irving: 40 points, four assists, seven 3-pointers.

LeBron James: 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists.

Kevin Love, 23 points. J.R. Smith, 15.

An NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers as a team, 86 points in the first half, 49 in the opening quarter. Against the vaunted Warriors. With their backs against the wall.

"We finally settled in, man," Irving said. "It was about damn time for all of us just to really see what playing well as a group looks like against a great team like the Warriors."

"I don't like it," James said. "It causes too much stress, man. I'm stressed out. Keep doing this every year. But listen, at the end of the day we just got some resilient guys. The Warriors have championship DNA, and we do as well. We're battle tested, they're battle tested.

"And getting swept is something that you never want to have happen."

From a basketball perspective, the Cavs have progressed throughout the series, from awful in Game 1 to less so in Game 2, followed by a heartbreaking Game 3 they should've won but couldn't score in the final three minutes of a five-point loss.

In Game 4, a game marred by seven technicals and spiked with emotion, the Cavs never trailed and led by as many as 24. They nailed 13 more 3-pointers than the Warriors.

"I can't foresee them coming to Oracle and hitting 24 3s," Draymond Green said. "We never felt like we were out of the game. We continued to push. We were right there. A couple of shots drop, maybe the game turns. We'll be fine."

On the off day Thursday, Green said how satisfying it would be to close out the series in Cleveland, and he said "It'll be very satisfying to do that. You know, we obviously won it here before. It's a great feeling, winning on somebody else's floor, celebrating on their floor, celebrating in their locker room, quieting their crowd.

"As an athlete, one of the best feelings is going into enemy territory and just silencing their crowd. So it'll be a great feeling. But at the end of the day, it don't matter where you win at, as long as you can win it."

Irving and James suggested that the Cavs took offense to this, though it's unclear what else Green was supposed to say. The degree to which it upset Cleveland's players is hard to gauge.

But Irving mentioned it and James said some players in the locker room had it on their minds.

Also, in the closing moments of Game 3 when Kevin Durant buried a go-ahead 3-pointer, Stephen Curry celebrated by popping a momentary squat -- which some have interpreted as Curry pretending to defecate on the Cavs' court.

Richard Jefferson said the Curry celebration didn't bother the Cavs, either.

"It's part of the game, I understand that," Irving said. "We knew what we were faced with (being down 3-0). But then you add, of course, some chatter in there, and that adds some extra motivation.

"That taste wouldn't have been the same if we would have lost tonight and they would have celebrated on our home floor. I'll just leave it at that."

James said that, in response to the Warriors, he told his teammates to "live in the moment." Smith said he walked into the locker room before Friday's game and it was "pretty mellow.

"I kind of liked the aura and what we had going on," Smith said.

Now, for the next three days, until Game 5 starts at 9 p.m. eastern on Monday, the Warriors are going to have to hear about leading a Finals 3-1.

"We are in the NBA Finals," Curry said. "No matter what you need to inspire you, whatever you need to grab ahold of, chalkboard material, whatever it happens, like it's so hard to win a championship, and kudos to them for finding whatever it took to play an amazing game, which they did.

"We got to find our edge next game. There's no secret."


(c)2017 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

Visit Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland at www.cleveland.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Recommended for You

    Norwalk Reflector Videos