Cavaliers get physical to keep title hopes alive
By Frank Pingue
CLEVELAND, June 9 (Reuters) - The Cleveland Cavaliers, left for dead in the NBA Finals, finally showed a pulse by trouncing the Golden State Warriors in a physical clash on Friday that could shift the tone of the series and spark a record-setting comeback.
The Cavaliers dropped the first three games of the NBA's best-of-seven championship but rather than watch the Warriors celebrate on their home court for the second time in three years, came out with their most physical effort yet.
"You get down 3-0 and you're fighting and you're trying to get a win, you do whatever it takes," Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after his team's 137-116 win.
"I thought we really brought a physicality to the game. We had a purpose and we cut down some of our mistakes we have been making those first three games and were able to play well."
The Cavaliers, who last year made an unprecedented rally from a 3-1 Finals deficit to beat the Warriors, were physical right from the opening tip in what was easily the most emotionally-charged game of the series.
After being outplayed in the opening two games and then squandering a lead in the final minutes of the third game the Cavaliers knew they needed to change their approach while their backs were up against the wall.
The gameplan worked like a charm as the Warriors were a frustrated bunch for most of the night with players and head coach Steve Kerr arguing calls from the officials, who at times seemed to lose control of the game.
"We just -- we knew we had to make it physical. We knew that's part of who we are, but I feel like we say that every game," said Kevin Love, who had 23 points for the Cavs.
"But tonight we kind of -- we took it to them first, and that was very telling for the rest of the game.
"We felt like that got -- and then playing very physical, there were a lot of fouls on both sides, but that's part of it. We feel like that should be part of the game."
Game Five will be played Monday in Oakland. (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)