Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) walks away during the second half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
The Cleveland Cavaliers avoided a sweep and denied the Golden State Warriors a ideal postseason with a 137-116 win in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals. According to Forbes Magazine, LeBron James is the second-highest paid athlete in the world in 2017, with salary and endorsements totaling $86.2 million. J.R. Smith finally got started.
One day after Cleveland plunged into a 3-0 hole following a demoralizing 118-113 loss in Game 3, James said he didn't have a problem with Durant tilting the balance of power by joining forces with a star-studded that already had Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
They're just not good enough to beat what may be one of the NBA's best teams ever.
Up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors can win their second title in three seasons and become the first team in National Basketball Association history to go through the playoffs without a loss with a win in Game 4 Friday night in Cleveland.
James made his first Finals appearance 10 years ago, when he and the Cavs were swept by San Antonio, which captured its third Larry O'Brien Trophy in a five-year span. "I think he's having the time of his life out there".
But the heavy minutes Cleveland's superstars were forced to play may have taken their toll down the stretch. He hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 45.3 seconds left during a game-clinching 11-0 run. Love's 3-pointer at 8:59 gave the Cavs their first advantage at any point after the first quarter in this series, and Cleveland's 94-87 lead toward the end of the period was its largest of the series.
"We want to play fast; we don't want to play in a hurry", Lue said.
"He doesn't have a ring yet", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game. "I'm averaging a triple-double in the Finals".
Irving bounced back from a rough Game 2 with 38 points, including a couple of dazzling layups where he juked around multiple Warriors.
"As it stands right now, they look pretty good as far as the future", James said.
If the Cavaliers can orchestrate another comeback they would become the first repeat champions since the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.
But this time, he says, it wasn't him.
"Do I look exhausted?" "I mean, it was just, 'Let's just have some fun playing ball, let's just all get better and let's see what happens'". "We missed some shots, and they made some".
This makes it all but certain they'll win the final game they need to clinch the best-of-seven series. James was rushing to the perimeter on defense, and Thompson moved back and the two collided, laying James out on the court.
"And they're playing like one of the best teams once again, and obviously this team is built to be able to do that with the talent that they have". Now, a fourth one seems almost as distant with the scary-good Warriors just getting started.