LeBron James and Kyrie Irving keep Cleveland Cavaliers alive

Cleveland avoided a sweep, extended the series at least one more game and gave the Warriors their first loss of the 2017 playoffs, preventing Golden State from becoming the first team in National Basketball Association history to go through the postseason unbeaten.

One reason for the Warriors' dominant playoff run was the acquisition of Durant in the offseason.

Cleveland generated its first double-digit lead of the series in the first quarter and its first 20-point lead of the series in the second. We may never know, but here's the thing, the game is different now than it was in the past so these arguments are pointless.

Golden State's quest for a championship, an NBA Finals sweep and the first ideal postseason in league history is underway.

The Warriors, who were 15-0 in this postseason, lead the series 3-1.

This time, again facing a Golden State Warriors team looking to clinch a championship, Irving was every bit as impressive.

Cleveland: Staring at a series defeat and a loss of defending champion status at home, the Cleveland Cavaliers came up with a record-breaking attacking performance right from tip-off, helping it snatch a game and to extend the series in 2017 National Basketball Association finals.

As for Warriors guard Stephen Curry? You know what can happen after that. "He just didn't get it going".

"Our mindset is to go up there [to Oakland] and get one", LeBron said.

Did the Cavaliers unlock a strategy that could finally help them upend the superior Warriors?

That is, except for a massive image of the Larry O'Brien Trophy, prominently displayed on the middle of the floor.

The difference this time is Golden State's Draymond Green will be available to the Warriors. Part of the ticket money is going to charity. He has had a series on the biggest stage that made people question who is the greatest player on the planet right now.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, some vendors outside the Cavs' arena apparently are preparing for the likelihood that this is the last home game of the season.

"The best thing with Golden State's situation is a lot of their guys are drafted", James said.

CLEVELAND (137): James 11-22 6-10 31, Love 7-14 3-3 23, T.Thompson 2-3 1-2 5, Irving 15-27 3-4 40, Smith 5-10 0-0 15, Jefferson 2-4 4-6 8, Derr.Williams 0-1 2-2 2, Dero.Williams 2-3 0-0 5, Korver 1-2 0-0 3, J.Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Shumpert 1-1 2-4 5, Dah.Jones 0-0 0-0 0. The Cavs came one point shy of the playoff record for highest scoring half, set by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1978 when they scored 87 in the second half of a 143-112 win over the Denver Nuggets.

This was the fourth straight game in The Finals, dating back to last summer historic rally from being down 3-1, when the Cavs won an elimination game.

"This has been the best team in our league the last three years", James said. Cleveland's coming back, again.

"They're all right", Kerr said facetiously after his team's shootaround Friday morning.

"It was just an incredibly physical game", he said. "And we understand that".

In one sequence, that was the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 - when it seems like there's nowhere to go, they find a way to pull off a win.

"I give them a ton of credit", said Golden State coach Steve Kerr of the Cavaliers.

In the end, Game 4 turned out to be the sort of affair in which the most explosive first-half performance in Finals history nearly became a footnote. Johnson said Monday night that those Lakers teams would sweep the Warriors, and his reasoning was simple: "They're too small".

The Warriors started the game on their heels, chasing, watching, letting Irving drain big shot after big shot, allowing LeBron James to set the pace and tone. The guys in the '50s would've destroyed everybody.

  • Julie Sanders