Stress test: High-wire Cavaliers still alive in NBA Finals

Kristopher Nichols
June 12, 2017

The Cavs scored a Finals record 86 points in the first half and then held on during a wild third and fourth quarter that included technical fouls, James jawing with fellow superstar Kevin Durant and Cleveland's crowd roaring like a jet engine.

Game 5 is Monday night at Oakland's Oracle Arena. The Warriors hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and are one game away from an National Basketball Association title.

"Nah, not at all", Green said when asked if he was disappointed about failing to finish off the flawless postseason.

And apparently, even after the Cavs' Game 4 win that restored some drama to these Finals, we're still not moving on from Squatgate. And when you've got great teammates like I do who allow me to play with my emotions and be emotional when I'm talking to them, to use my emotions to the better for us, it's easy.

Of course, no one is blaming the Warriors in this situation (or, at least, I would hope no one is).

"Our mindset is to go out there and get one", James said.

A mellower Green has learned the lessons from that frustration and while not above chatting to a referee, was whistled for fewer flagrant fouls this season. We all know about the controversy in the wake of Curry's "celebration" after Kevin Durant's game-winning 3-pointer late in Game 3. Green told reporters after the game. When he's on the court, he never stops chirping at opposing players, an endless stream of trash talk.

"I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike, just seeing what he was able to accomplish", James said after scoring 35 points in the Cavaliers' 135-102 victory over the Boston Celtics that clinched the Eastern Conference title. "He's a guy that sets the tone for them".

Ty Lue and LeBron knows the Warriors will not change their own style unless they absolutely need to. The feisty contest reached a head in the third quarter when it appeared as though Green committed his second technical foul, which would have booted him from the game.

There remains much work to do for Cleveland, which still needs to beat Golden State three straight times, including twice in the insane environs of Oracle Arena, but at least they have a chance. "They show me how important I am to them". I want to see how it feels to win at home.

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"Is it fair? I don't care", said LeBron. "They don't seem to be the sharpest people around".

In some ways, Green's postgame banter was a way to deflect from everything that happened in the game itself.

If not for Cleveland's Kyle Korver missing a 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 3, the series would be 2-2. The champions had 49 points in the first quarter.

The celebrating after Game 4 was done by Cavaliers fans, not Golden State players, their families or anyone else dressed in blue and gold who came looking for a historic party. "I'm pretty sure Draymond won't get suspended for Game 5".

In any event, the Cavs are still breathing, and it's now the Warriors who may be feeling the pressure after blowing a 3-1 lead last June.

There is one very notable difference this time, however: Green will be on the Oracle Arena court for Game 5, instead of watching.

Golden State Warriors starting forward Draymond Green won't be stuck watching game five of the NBA Finals from the stadium next door this year.

Someone doesn't develop into this type of player if they don't also possess an huge amount of self-confidence, a quality Green has in abundance. "We never felt like we were out of the game".

"We were up 3-0". It's a little different. "But at the end of the day, it don't matter where you win at, as long as you can win it". "Thank God I get to play". We did that, and hopefully we can do it Monday night. He isn't about to abandon it now.

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