But it's the one they had to have, and a series that wasn't living up to its hype and seemed headed for a quick conclusion is California bound for Game 5 on Monday night.
Cleveland's focus was razor-sharp from opening tip to the waning seconds, and instead of players dreaming about their summer vacation, they refused to let Golden State complete a flawless postseason.
The Warriors might have two of the game's three top players, but LeBron James is still the best of his generation. One Golden State Warrior, hated in this arena, was ejected at first glance, only to have the first technical foul rescinded. Golden State will be at full strength this time, and while the Warriors have finally lost a game, they haven't lost any confidence.
"I think it came from Draymond (Green, a Warriors forward), which is OK, that's Dray anyway".
Now they need the biggest ever in the NBA's postseason.
Said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr of James and Irving: "They were phenomenal". So if they managed to piece together three consecutive virtuoso showings last time, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they could do it four times this year. "So, I stood my ground". "But we knew what we were faced with, that's what it was". Then you add some chatter in there, and that adds some extra motivation. "But we'll go back and tee it up again". "So I just told guys, I didn't stress anything besides just live in the moment".
The Warriors are a great team, they are probably the best team the league has seen in 20 years.
Stan Wawrinka: 'Hopefully Djokovic can find his tennis soon!'
Today was a flawless match for me, I thought very well from the beginning. He won in Geneva so is obviously confident. The third set was a scrappy affair.
Warriors: Were trying to become the first team to complete a postseason unbeaten. But at least they will now get a chance to win the series at home. They established a Finals record with 24 3-pointers, breaking the standard of 18 the Warriors set in Game 2.
After making the first step to climb back in the series at 3-1, the Cavs felt emboldened to talk back. Now, Golden State fans are holding their breath. The Cavs aren't strong enough defensively to stop this Warriors team. "You're taking the hard fouls out of the game, calling them flagrants, taking a lot of stuff out of game, but you can take the emotion out of the game". Things were going Cleveland's way.
Until the Cavs did it previous year, no team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals. Golden State probably would have won that series even if Leonard hadn't been hurt, though it would have been more of a grind. The Warriors have let only three teams shoot better than 50% from behind the arc.
The Mercury News' Tim Kawakami called it an imperfect game for everybody involved, except for the Cavs: "The Warriors played terribly at the start, they gathered themselves to make it competitive into the third quarter, and then that third quarter was some of the oddest stuff in recent playoff history". A huge break for Golden State.
Now he says that's not an impossible notion, a comeback to outdo the greatest comeback they made a year ago.
"They were aggressive, you have to give them some credit", said Green, who nonetheless still complained that so many Warriors were in early foul trouble that they couldn't be as aggressive as they wanted.
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