76ers

NBA Finals: Cavs use historic offensive performance to stay alive

NBA Finals: Cavs use historic offensive performance to stay alive

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Golden State's perfect postseason is over.

Cleveland's coming back again.

Just like last year, the NBA Finals are at 3-1 after four games.

LeBron James recorded a triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 40 points and the Cavs broke scoring records while outperforming the NBA's most electrifying offense in a testy Game 4 filled with technical fouls on Friday night, beating the Warriors 137-116 and snapping their 15-game playoff winning streak.

"We have championship DNA," said James, who broke Magic Johnson's record with his ninth triple-double in the Finals. "We showed that tonight. We just kept our composure. We shared the ball, we moved the ball and defensively we were physical. It's one game."

But it's the one they had to have, and a series that wasn't living up to its hype and seemed headed for a quick conclusion is California bound for Game 5 on Monday night.

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.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs.

But until the Cavs did it last year, no team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals. Cleveland took Game 3 at home, lost Game 4 and then won the final three -- Game 7 in Oakland -- to capture the city's first sports championship since 1964.

As the final seconds ticked off, Cleveland fans chanted "Cavs in 7."

"Believeland is not going to give up," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said, "and we're going to keep fighting. We're going to keep scrapping."

The Warriors had swept their first three series and were 48 minutes away from a party they've been planning for a year. But it's on hold and Golden State fans are holding their breath.

Coach Steve Kerr said his players aren't worried about the past.

"I don't think there was any concern or thoughts about history," Kerr said. "I think it was we played a desperate team on their home floor, a great team, with great players, and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that."

Durant, still one win from the coveted championship he left Oklahoma City to get, scored 35 but got little help from Stephen Curry, who scored 14 on 4-of-13 shooting.

James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and on one trip threw the ball off the backboard to himself for a dunk.

Kevin Love made six 3-pointers and added 23 points for Cleveland, which made 24 3s, another Finals mark.

If not for Cleveland's Kyle Korver missing a 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 3, the series would be 2-2.

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.

The third quarter featured a confusing sequence and a scramble on the floor that resulted in two technical, a friend of James being escorted from the arena and back and forth flurries worthy of a heavyweight boxing match.

At one point, it was announced that Golden State's Draymond Green had been given his second technical foul and security came onto the floor to usher the volatile forward to the locker room. However, a technical assessed to him in the first half was actually called on Warriors coach Steve Kerr, leading to the confusion.

Later, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was involved in a pileup of players in the foul lane and he delivered two swipes to Iman Shumpert's groin area as the referees tried to get control. Pachulia could have been tossed, but was only given a technical as was Shumpert. As this was being sorted out, Todd Leebow, a friend of James who was sitting with the three-time champion's business partners, got involved in an argument with Golden State's bench and was asked to leave.

The Cavs were determined not to let the Warriors celebrate on their floor for the second time in three years, and it was Cleveland, not Golden State, which busted Finals scoring records in the first half. Cleveland scored 49 in the first quarter and 86 during a dizzying opening 24 minutes that left players and fans gasping for air.

And beyond their firepower, the Cavs did it on defense, holding the up-and-down Warriors without a single fast-break point.

With their crowd hanging on every dribble, pass and shot, the Cavaliers came out flying.

Cleveland built an early 16-point lead and for the first extended time the series the defending champions looked and played like the superior team at both ends.

Golden State clawed within seven, but then the Warriors began fouling and Kerr got nailed with his technical -- one of seven in the game. Fueled by the outburst, the Cavs went on a 12-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from Love and dunk by 36-year-old Richard Jefferson, who earlier in the day said he and his teammates would approach the 3-0 deficit like a marathon, "one step at a time."

They've taken the first.

Tip-ins
Warriors: Were trying to become the first team to complete a postseason unbeaten. There have been two one-loss champions: the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers (15-1) and 1983 Philadelphia 76ers (12-1). ... Comedian Kevin Hart and NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. were among the courtside celebrities. ... Before the game, Kerr, who missed 11 playoff games because of back pain, said his decision to return to the bench for Game 2 in the Finals was easy. "It's just fun," he said, "and I felt better. And that was my barometer. If I felt better, I was going to do it."

Cavaliers: James jumped Michael Jordan (1,176) on the Finals scoring list, and hopped over His Airness (1,463) for the most made free throws in pro basketball's showcase event. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,317) and Mr. Logo himself, Jerry West (1,679) have scored more points in the Finals. ... General manager David Griffin's contract expires after the season, and it's not clear if he will be re-signed by owner Dan Gilbert. Griffin took over after Chris Grant was fired in 2014 and has been responsible for overhauling a roster that is the highest paid in the league. ... Reserve guard Dahntay Jones was called for a technical in the first half for trash talking with Durant.

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

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AP Images/ USA Today Images

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

Brett Brown sat at the podium with a puzzled look on his face as he stared at the box score.

Sure, he’d likely already been told that the Sixers had a season-high 27 turnovers in their 106-102 Game 4 win over the Miami Heat. But it’s one thing to hear it from someone else and another to see it written down in black and white.

“The fact that you can actually win a playoff game with this volume of turnovers is mind-boggling,” Brown said.

The Sixers’ level of carelessness on Saturday was equally astonishing.

For three quarters, the Sixers resembled the regular-season version of the team we have become accustomed to seeing over the years under Brown. They had the ball stolen on dribble moves and their passes intercepted. They had passes sail out of bounds and committed offensive fouls.

Simply put, the Sixers were tripping over themselves to give the ball back to the Heat.

“The first three periods, I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard and not feel like you’re just down 15, 14, 18 given the way the game went,” Brown said.

“I’m shocked that we won this game. We really didn’t have a right to win this game. I thought that, defensively, in the first three periods, we were a C-minus. I thought that our turnovers were an F.”

While a lot of that had to do with the Sixers’ own sloppiness, the Heat’s level of desperation was certainly a factor.

“Coming into this game this afternoon, you know you’re going to get the Miami Heat’s best,” Brown said. “It’s a culture of winning. They’ve won championships. Spo’s (Erik Spoelstra) a hell of a coach. You knew they were going to be all wound up. Like I said before, you didn’t have to be a mystic to guess what this was going to look like. 

“And they jumped us and we didn’t handle it well. We had multiple turnovers. I thought in Game 3 we responded to the physicality with only 12 and we did some things fundamentally more correct. There were several times in tonight’s game that they got the better of us and this environment got the better of us a little bit.”

Not when it mattered most.

The Sixers committed just three of those 27 turnovers in the fourth quarter as they dominated another final period to finish off the comeback.

And while the Sixers know they will never reach their playoff goals if they continue giving the ball away at such a rapid rate, they were pleased the team could stop the bleeding in crunch time with the game on the line.

“I think we did a great job of coming back, staying poised and playing as a team,” Ben Simmons said. “Going through our structured plays, whatever it is, defensively and offensively.” 

“I feel that we have been trending in a way that the fourth-period execution, the fourth-period mentality — defensively driven — has been our identity,” Brown said. “Then you go to the other side and say, well, we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over. Three turnovers, by our standards, is an A-plus.”

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

MIAMI — For the 13 first rounds Dwyane Wade has played in, the current Sixers-Heat matchup has made a strong impression.

“They’re good,” Wade said. “They’re special. They’re a good group. They put the right team together.”

Sitting at the podium, Wade spent a good amount of time during his press conference praising the team that has put the Heat on the brink of elimination. He’s been on the winning side often, including three championships, so he recognizes a unique team when he sees it. 

“This definitely is one of the best first-round series I’ve ever played in, first-round opponent,” Wade said.

The Sixers have gone up 3-1 on the Heat with a roster that is balanced both positionally and in experience. Seven players finished in double digits Saturday and only veteran JJ Redick had more than 20 points. Ben Simmons, with whom Wade already has a relationship (see story), recorded his first career playoff triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). He became the youngest player to do so since Wade’s former teammate LeBron James back in 2006. 

"I give a lot of credit to their point guard, their leader, Ben,” Wade said. “He does a great job of getting them settled, getting the ball to his guys, and keep feeding confidence to them.”

Wade described the Sixers as having “an edge.” They will use it to test the Heat Tuesday when the series returns to Philadelphia. Wade encourages his teammates to play with maturity and withstand the Sixers’ runs. The Heat split the first two games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

“They’re going to play with pace, play with speed, play physical,” Wade said. “Obviously they’re going to play with their crowd. It’s going to be a high energy type of game from them … All we’ve got to do is just worry about this one game and giving everything we have for that game. You walk out of that game, you gave everything you had, you can live with whatever result is there at the end.”

Wade, 36, has had vintage moments against the Sixers in this series. He led all players with 28 points off the bench in the Heat’s Game 2 win. On Sunday, he scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. 

Asked about the possibility of this game against the Sixers being his last game in Miami playing for the Heat, Wade said, “I won’t answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game and trying to win that one.”

What he will answer is questions about his competition. 

"They’re a very good team," Wade said. "I can’t say nothing negative about them at all. So far they’ve been great opponents.”