Parents who value unflinching sportsmanship and being polite above all else for your children, cover their eyes.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue ordered his players to stop helping the Warriors up after a fall ahead of Game 4, and it worked.
The last game to date in these Finals was a raucous affair with seven technicals and a heap of trash talk, and Cleveland beat Golden State 137-116.
“I liked it,” Lue said Sunday. “I thought the first two games were being too nice. The first three games, helping guys up off the floor, smiling, talking to guys and — yeah, I didn’t like that. So I think Game 4, talking trash, being physical, whatever you got to do to try to get that edge to win, you got to do it.”
Game 5 is Monday in Oakland, Calif.
Like last year, the Warriors lead in the series, 3-1. What’s different is Cleveland took Game 3 last year, whereas Golden State was victorious at The Q in that game last week but whiffed at a chance at a perfect postseason (would’ve been the first in NBA history) by being blown out in Game 4.
The two teams have differing opinions as to why the Cavs are still alive in this series. The Cavs think they: A.) Were nastier, finally, and B.) Finally followed the game plan.
The Warriors, meanwhile, sounded like the Cavs after they were destroyed in Game 1. Golden State spent a lot of time Sunday talking about how poorly it played, more so than crediting the Cavs for a good night.
“We just didn’t play well at all,” Stephen Curry said.
“You can tweak some things, but are we going to play hard?” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Are we going to get after it and compete? Or are we going to do what we did the other night, which is allow three-point shooters to get open, get broken down at the point of attack, give up offensive boards?”
The Cavs set Finals records for points in a quarter (49, in the first), a half (86, in the first half) and 3-pointers (24). Kyrie Irving scored 40 points and LeBron James posted his ninth triple-double with 31 points, 10 boards, and 11 assists. Cleveland shot 53 percent from the field and .533 from 3-point range.
“Those 24 (3-pointers), I would say probably 10 of them were just mental breakdowns and giving them open looks,” Curry said. “And they’re obviously great three-point shooters. If you give them open looks, they’re capable of making it.”
The Warriors’ turned the ball over 12 times, costing them 18 points. Sounds bad, but they’d committed 20 and 18 turnovers in games 2 and 3 — both Golden State wins.
“We’re planning on playing a lot better tomorrow,” Kerr said.
James disagreed with the Warriors’ assessment of Game 4.
“We stuck to our keys,” James said. “That is all I can say. I don’t think they played poorly. I think they came in with a game plan and we came in with a game plan and we happened to get that one. I don’t think we played poorly in Game 3, but they just played better than us and they got that one.
“So for us if we come in with our mindset of the game plan that our coaching staff will give us, we stick to it as close to 48 minutes as possible. And does it give you a win? No, but it gives us the best shot.”
Lue talked to his players before Game 4 — including James — about not being so nice to the Warriors. Let them lay if they stumble to the court.
Among the technicals, James, Dahntay Jones (from the bench), and Iman Shumpert took them for the Cavs. Lue wants to see that same spirit carry into Game 5 at Oracle Arena, where Cleveland turned the Finals on its ear last year.
A win by the Cavs would do the same thing. The Warriors, it would seem, are not entirely interested in this series reaching a sixth game.
“I feel like this is the game we got to get or it’s over with,” James said. “I think everybody’s feeling that way.”