BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Golden State Warriors haven’t lost three straight games all season, and doing so now would force them to make the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
Teams with a 3-1 lead are 32-0 in the finals, according to information provided to the league by Elias. So the Warriors don’t have to be reminded of the importance of Game 4 against Cleveland on Thursday night.
“I think we all know it’s really urgent,” guard Klay Thompson said. “No one wants to go down 3-1.”
LeBron James has scored 40 or more in two of the three games while playing more than 47 minutes per game for an undermanned team. He appeared exhausted Wednesday, though that will be worth it if he can deliver the Cavaliers their first NBA title.
“You just try to give everything that you have to your teammates and live with the results,” James said. “For me, I just try to put it all on the line to a point where win, lose or draw, you’re satisfied with the outcome.”
Here are things to watch in Game 4:
SHIFTING STRATEGY?: The Warriors haven’t done much double-teaming of James, but coach Steve Kerr acknowledged they may have to change their tactics with the way he is scoring.
“As far as our coverage on LeBron, yeah, you have to evaluate everything,” Kerr said. “You have to look at your options. You have to think about if you take something away, what you’re giving up, that kind of stuff.
“We’ve lost two games in a row in the series, so we have to look at everything. It may mean we change some things. It may not.”
NEED FOR SPEED: Golden State is averaging just 11.7 fast-break points in the finals, after averaging more than 20 in every other playoff series. The Warriors’ starters had none in Game 4, as Cleveland has played a deliberate pace on offense and gotten back quickly on transition defense.
“Yeah, if you look at it, our defense has pretty much done its job. It’s just offensively for some reason we haven’t, even when we get stops and rebounds, we haven’t been successful getting a ton of fast-break points,” Warriors forward David Lee said.
“We’ve been in this same position down 2-1 at Memphis against a great veteran team in Memphis that attempted to do the same thing Cleveland is doing. That’s slow the game down, grind it out, and play to their strengths. That’s exactly what Cleveland’s trying to do. I have faith that we’re going to come out and play the right way tomorrow and then this series is right back to square one.”
WHAT’S THE SECRET? James has a secret, and not even one of his best friends in the NBA could get him to make it public.
Besides wanting to win another championship, James said earlier in the series he had another motivation he wouldn’t reveal. Not even to Dwyane Wade, who was working the Game 3 postgame show for ESPN and interviewed his former teammate.
“And he tried to get the secret motivation out of me, and I didn’t give it to him either, even though I told him (privately),” James said. “But he won’t tell you guys, though. He won’t tell you all until hopefully after this is all over.”
DELLY’S DUTIES: Matthew Dellavedova is expected to be ready to go after needing treatment for cramping and dehydration following Game 3. He played more than 38 minutes in that one and Cavaliers coach David Blatt said the team would keep an eye on him.
“But he’ll be out there and we’ll just monitor how he’s doing,” Blatt said. “I’m not going to come in there with a specific minute restriction, but we’ll definitely be conscious of it.”
GREEN’S GUESS: Draymond Green, expected to play after getting treatment for back spasms, was asked what to expect from the Warriors at the start of Game 4.
“Just a more spirited team. More intensity,” he said. “I’m not saying that, hey, we’re going to come out and make every shot. Who knows? Shots may fall, they may not. But I’m willing to bet if our intensity level is higher, the shots go in.”
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