Hero Ballers: LeBron James & Kyrie Irving

“Believeland is not going to give up and we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep scrapping.”—Tyronn Lue

Not to be outdone by Golden State’s Dynastic Duo, Cleveland’s Cavalier Couple outdueled the Dubs’ duet in escaping a sweep, winning Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals, 137-116, en route to narrowing the series deficit to 3-1 in this seven-game series.

LeBron James got the entire team going all game long, producing a +32 plus-minus in 41 minutes, while supplying 31 points on .587 true shooting percentage, 10 rebounds, 11 assists against only 2 turnovers.

His younger sidekick, Kyrie Irving, meanwhile was the unstoppable scoring machine, pouring in 40 points on .695 true shooting percentage, while tallying 7 rebounds, 4 assists with 3 turnover and a +7 plus-minus in 41 minutes.

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

“We have championship DNA. We showed that tonight. We just kept our composure. We shared the ball, we moved the ball and defensively, we were physical.”—LeBron James

In a series dominated by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, who entered Game 4 with stellar points-rebounds-assists stat line averages of 34-10-6 and 29-10-9, the Cavaliers desperately needed both of their top scorers dominating offensively to free up teammates to do what they do best: make three-point shots.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

That is exactly what Cleveland did, for a change, in Game 4, nailing a Finals-record 24 of 45 three-point attempts (53 percent)—actually making and taking a majority of their shots from beyond the arc (the Cavs were 22 of 42 on two-point attempts).

No supporting players did more damage from beyond the arc than Cleveland’s third All-Star, Kevin Love, along with sharpshooter J.R. Smith, who made 6-of-8 and 5-of-9 on their three-pointers in Game 4. Love finished with 23 points; Smith, 15.

It was a tone set from the get-go, with the Cavs’ scoring a Finals-record 49 points in the first quarter and 37 points in the second to take an 86-68 halftime lead.

Were they motivated by Curry’s squat after Durant’s go-ahead 3 last game? Draymond  Green’s pregame talk of celebrating on the Cavs’ floor? Zaza Pachulia’s nut punch in Game 4? Green’s technical and fouls rescinded or not called at all?

Who knows?

Whatever distraction came their way did nothing to distract the Cavaliers’ focus from pouring it on these Warriors.

It is what you have to do against, arguably, the greatest offense of all-time.

You can not let up for a minute, two minutes or even a three-minute stretch as the Cavs painfully learned in Game 3 when they gave up 11 unanswered points in losing the previous Finals game during the contest’s final 2:45.

And thanks to the dominance of the Cavs’ duo and their sharpshooters, Cleveland held court and survived to play another day.

Monday, it is.

Players MIN +/- PTS (TSP) 2FG 3FG FT REB AST/TO STL & BLK
LeBron James  41  +32  31 (.587) 8-14  3-8 6-10  10  11/2  1 & 0
Kyrie Irving  41  +7  40 (.695)  8-15  7-12 3-4  7  4/3  1 & 0

 

Key: MIN minutes; +/- plus-minus; PTS points; TSP true shooting percentage; 2FG 2-point field goals and attempts; 3FG 3-point field goals and attempts; FT free throws and attempts; REB rebounds; AST/TO assists/turnovers; STL & BLK steals and blocks.