Preview of Game 4 of the NBA Finals between Cleveland and San Antonio.
San Antonio Spurs fans are ready to break out the brooms. The Cavaliers just hope to survive another day and keep those brooms in the closet.
The NBA Finals may come to an abrupt end tonight at Quicken Loans Arena. A Spurs win will give them a four-game sweep and their fourth championship since 1999.
San Antonio is trying to become the eighth team to sweep the Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers were the last to do it in 2002 when they took out New Jersey in four straight.
The Spurs have the biggest cushion possible, but they are approaching tonight as if it were do or die.
“We just try to play as if it is Game 7,” forward Manu Ginobili said. “We don’t have to think or try to think that there’s another option, another opportunity we face from here. So we’ve got to take the next game as if it was the last one.”
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. Only the 1951 New York Knicks, 1994 Denver Nuggets and 2003 Portland Trail Blazers have extended a series to seven games after losing the first three.
The Cavs are not ready to wave the white flag yet.
“I don’t think anybody on this team has given up,” guard Daniel Gibson said. “We all understand our backs are against the wall now. We just have to go out there and give it everything we have.”
As they have all season, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said the Cavs have to take it one game at a time.
“We realize we have dug ourselves a huge hole,” Ilgauskas said. “Right now we can’t look at it as winning four in a row. We just have to look at tomorrow.”
The Cavs were hoping a change of scenery would have led to a change of direction to these Finals. After dropping the first two in San Antonio, the Cavs came home and never let the Spurs take command of Game 3.
San Antonio looked beatable for the first time Tuesday. Even when the Spurs took a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, a hole was there for the Cavs to climb through.
The Spurs defense and their inability to put the ball in the basket killed the Cavs. Cleveland shot only 36.7 percent (29-of-79) from the field, a rate that will rarely lead to wins in the Finals.
San Antonio made Cleveland become a jump-shooting team. The Cavs shot 19 three-pointers but hit just three.
“They’re doing a great job of getting to our shooters, then making the paint look crowded, even after getting to our shooters on close outs,” Head Coach Mike Brown said.
“We’ve just got to continue to try to step into shots if we’re open. If we’re not open, we’ve got to continue to drive the basketball. But the main thing is we’ve got to be aggressive. And if we’re aggressive, I think good things will happen to us at the end of the day.”
LeBron James thinks good things still can happen to the Cavs in this series.
“We don’t want to get swept,” James said. “We’re not even thinking about that. We’re thinking about winning a game and continuing to try to win a championship.
“We still feel confident. It’s all about the first team getting No. 4. They're definitely closer than we are. But at the same time, the series is not over until somebody hits four.”
Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail: