The Cavaliers already were facing a win-or-stay home situation in Game 4, but they found a little extra motivation to raise their game from what Kyrie Irving called “chatter” from the Warriors locker room.
The outspoken Draymond Green saying he wanted to celebrate winning a championship in the Cavaliers’ building rubbed Irving the wrong way. It’s tame by normal bulletin-board material standards, but it apparently helped the Cavaliers play with more passion and fire Friday night.
The Cavaliers set an NBA Finals record with a 49-point first quarter and rolled to a 137-116 victory to avoid the sweep and send the series back to Golden State for Game 5 Monday. Golden State leads 3-1.
“You heard some chatter going on throughout the Warriors’ locker room in terms of them trying to end it here,” Irving said after he led everyone with 40 points. “Definitely heard the chatter.”
The Cavaliers made it look easy in the first quarter. They could have scored more than 50, but they missed eight foul shots. They also set a record for points in a half with 86 points.
Things got chippy and testy in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers maintained their composure and made sure the Warriors didn’t hoist the championship trophy on their floor.
“We knew what we were faced with,” Irving said. “Then you add some chatter in there, and that adds some extra motivation. That taste wouldn’t have been the same if we would have lost and they would have celebrated on our home floor. I’ll just leave it that.”
Irving never mentioned Green by name, but LeBron James did, saying teammates brought it to his attention.
“Some of the other guys heard it and told me that they wanted to celebrate on our floor once again and they wanted to spray Champagne in our locker room,” James said. “I think it came from Draymond, which is OK. That’s Dray.”
Green was asked before Game 4 about the possibility of winning the series on the Cavaliers’ home-court. He said it would be “satisfying” to do that and silence their crowd. Steph Curry found it surprising that the Cavaliers needed any extra motivation.
“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’s so hard to win a championship. Kudos to them for finding whatever it took to play an amazing game.
“We would have loved to have celebrated (Friday) and finished off the job. Didn’t’ happen, got another opportunity Monday. We got to find our edge and respond. So all the chatter and stuff is neither here nor there. It’s whatever you need to get yourself ready to play.”