Heading into Game Five, here are the plays of the series so far. Even in the case of the 32-year-old LeBron James, burnout is unlikely anytime soon. The Cavs lost the title to the Warriors. The Warriors won both those games comfortably.
Irving has scored almost seven more points per game in Cavs wins than losses in the past two Finals with the biggest difference being his long-range shooting; he is shooting 27 percent in the six losses and 53 percent in the five wins. Don't and this series gets scary.
For the second straight year, we are at 3-1.
Monday's game is at home for the Warriors, as would be Game 7 if the series is to advance.
And the Cavaliers finally held their own on the backboards, winning the rebound battle 41-40, after getting beaten soundly in the first three games, where Stephen Curry out-rebounded Cleveland's best on the boards, Kristin Thompson, by himself.
Check out the play in question below, and remember Game 5 is tonight at 9pm from Oracle Arena.
Irving struggled in the first two games of the series for a variety of reasons, but there were two main factors at play.
It also saw a defensive push from Cleveland, holding Warriors star Steph Curry to just 14 points on four of 13 field goals. They also have to try and make history again, like they did previous year when they became the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. He has a unique game. In the first two games, he shot 39 percent on similarly contested looks.
"I can tell you a lot of people didn't believe that we wanted to get on a plane and come back here", Jefferson said. I know that's cliché, but that's the truth.
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" 'You have a small window to play and have a career, ' Crosby said". " One bounce can change the whole game". Murray stoned Sissons on a breakaway later in the period, and he also denied Craig Smith on a breakaway.
"We have to bring our best game every game against this team". Irving is a capable long-range shooter, but not an overly accurate or potent one.
These Finals, rightly or wrongly, are less about the defending champs than they are a referendum on the NBA's latest superteam, and on Durant's decision to join it - the same group that defeated him in the Western Conference finals previous year, when he was on the Oklahoma City Thunder. "Talking trash or knocking guys on the floor, whatever you got to do, you got to do it". "How was your pressure?"
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue can see the difference in Irving from start of the finals to now.
"Well, he's unsafe, so we just wanted to limit his shots, take the ball out of his hands".
"They boo me and thought I had a tech I didn't have, so that wasn't sharp", Green said. "But when he's extending the floor and hitting those threes, it widens the whole floor for everybody".
If you are the 71-year-old Phil Jackson, building on a Latvian unicorn (Kristaps Porzingis) and a teenage point guard yet to be named, you may well require an octogenarian's job security in order to realize the restoration of New York Knicks greatness.
"He has just been very special in closeout games", James said.
There are the indefensible, well-defended looks, where Klay Thompson forces him into a tough look, gets a hand up and he makes it anyway.
Let's backtrack a moment from what led up to game 4. These are fine for the Warriors. The Warriors need him to get hot and absolutely torch the Cavaliers in at least one game. And when the Cavs defeated Golden State 137-116 last time out, it was because they were brutal and unapologetic for it. "He's got to the basket a little too much to our liking". When Irving isolates his defender, James can conserve energy.
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