Perhaps the Cleveland Cavaliers have not recovered from the hangover of the game one loss in the NBA Finals. The wine and gold now trail in the series 0-3 to the Golden State Warriors. Friday night the Cavaliers look to avoid being swept by the reigning champions for the second straight year. Cleveland accomplished the feat in 2017. Can they do it again in 2018?
“That's our main focus, Game 4,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said during Thursday media availability. “Just tell the guys Games 1 and 3 we had a chance to win. We were right in the game with an opportunity to win those games. So we know we can beat this team, and we have to have the confidence to do that. We've got to be better in some areas that we had some breakdowns in. But our focus is not on winning four. Our focus is winning Game 4. That's got to be our mindset.”
Cleveland has had opportunities to win and could be holding a 2-1 series lead over Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors. Mistakes have been costly.
“You really have to continue to put your foot on the gas. You can't let up,” Kevin Love said. “So I think it was not just myself, but everybody. I think it's a mentality. Just continue to stay aggressive, get that ball from side to side. We've always been better when we've played with pace. I think that allows LeBron to do what he does best, and that's get downhill and attack and play in the open court in transition.”
Cleveland came out aggressive to start game three. The Cavaliers need to do that again in game four. This time they can't let Golden State weather the early storm and get back in the game.
“You can never count out a champion at the end of the day, no matter how vulnerable people may seem or people think they may be, or if they hit some adversity,” LeBron James said. “I think it's all part of the process. You've just got to try to hunker down and get stops.”
The Cavaliers had NBA history when they won the championship in 2016. Cleveland became the first team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to win the NBA Finals. Being down 3-0 is an even toughest task, but the opportunity to make history again is still there.
“I know it's cliché, but you've got to take it one game at a time,” Love said. “I think that's what we did in that series. We were able to get Game 3. Obviously, we lost Game 4 on our home floor, but we were able to win the next three. For us, that margin of error is very small. We know that if we keep our coverages tight; we foul when we need to; we switch when we're supposed to; we don't let them slip to the rim, get those easy buckets that are deflating; and then on the offensive end in the third quarter we don't get stagnant and play a full 48 minutes of moving the ball and playing our game, we'll give ourselves a chance and we feel like we can win.”