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May 25, 2016

Kyrie Irving

LeBron James

Cleveland, Ohio: Game Five

Cleveland 116, Toronto 78

Q. LeBron, obviously the point total and the differential is going to be a big story line, but how refreshing is it to have a lot of those first-quarter points come off of defense?
LeBRON JAMES: We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn't play our defense the right way. We didn't play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple. We had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That was the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.

Q. LeBron, you spoke this morning about just a sense of calm. How much of that was just how many times you've been here before, and was there any part of it that you knew what was going to happen tonight, you knew that was still in there?
LeBRON JAMES: I've been a part of some really adverse situations, and I just didn't believe that this was one of them. So it's just been very calm about the whole situation, understanding that our guys knew what we did and what we didn't accomplish in Toronto. I'm not taking away from the fact how big of a game this was, because it is -- it's a Game 5 on our home floor and the series tied 2-2. But from the very moment that we lost Game 4, I was just very calm about the whole situation, seeing the good that we can prepare and get better for Game 5 instead of looking at all the bad that we did. Just mentally just having these guys focus, and they answered the call.

Q. Kyrie, all three of the Big Three scored over 20, but defensively tonight you guys did a great job holding down [DeMar] DeRozan and [Kyle] Lowry. What changed defensively with the guards holding them to only 27 after they scored over 60 last game?
KYRIE IRVING: Just taking the personal challenge. We talked about it after the game. Just making it a little bit more uncomfortable for them coming out. They were coming off the pick-and-rolls, attacking our bigs downhill, so we kind of made a change on that. It made our jobs a little bit easier on the ball to get into the ball because of our backside help. We had more than four sets of eyes on them, just like they were doing to me and LeBron on the other end. We just wanted to counteract that and just play more physical and make other guys make decisions other than those two. We obviously know they lead their team, and in Toronto they did a great job both Game 3 and 4 of doing that. Game 5 on our home floor we just wanted to be a little bit more physical, make them uncomfortable.

Q. First of all, when Kevin Love throws you an outlet pass in full stride, not everybody can do that on either end. Explain the dynamics of what makes that such a great basketball play.
LeBRON JAMES: Well, first of all, like you stated in the first part, having someone like Kevin who can make that pass. He's been throwing outlet passes, chest passes full court, for a long time now, probably all the way back to high school. Obviously we saw it at UCLA, we saw it at Minnesota, and now we're starting to get that connection here, and we have it. For me, it's fun for me that I can be a receiver again, taking me back to my football days, and just try to keep the cornerback on my hip and not look up until the ball gets there, and then I'm able to finish. It was a huge play, and in that particular case, we kind of even talked about it while the jump ball was going on with Swish [J.R. Smith] and he was able to lead me to the rim and I was able to finish.

Q. Also we talked about how Kevin is feeling more connected to the team and maybe coming out of his shell a little bit more. What is it that you saw tonight that makes you think that that's true?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I don't believe that's true to the first part. Kevin has always been out of his shell; he just doesn't do it around you guys because it's not about that. What we do as a team, we keep everything in house, and besides RJ [Richard Jefferson] bringing out Little Kev recently, everything has been in house. But Kevin is a great guy, a great teammate, and tonight was just a bounce-back for him. He knew he didn't play his style of basketball or how he wanted to play to help us win in Toronto. He wanted to make a different outcome of it, and he did that tonight. He's a true professional.

Q. LeBron, when you did have playoff struggles early in your career and everybody, the whole world was watching, you were able to bounce back from that and get yourself to a point to have accomplishments. You kind of saw that play out for Kevin. When we spoke after Game 3, you said, we're going to help him, but also he kind of has to do it for himself. What's that process like seeing him, I guess, achieve that first challenge?
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, it's very difficult and you feel like you're by yourself. I've been there before, when you're a big part of a puzzle, and things just don't go the way you either dreamed about it or the way you thought it was going to be. You feel like you're by yourself for 24 hours or 48 hours or however long the case may be. To see him come out the way he did tonight, just aggressive from the beginning, his first bucket, his first paint touch -- his first touch was in the paint, a right-hand jump hook. We knew from that point on that that's where he wanted it, and we continued to go to him. So it was great to see him bounce back like that.

Q. LeBron, I guess you haven't heard the outside noise, people saying, why is LeBron not taking over the game, why is he not doing more? You haven't had to do that, and I'm curious to ask in this game in particular, you see a blowout fashion, I think people would assume that you just took over from start to finish. How is this team still able to be so effective and you stay within the team system and stick to the script?
LeBRON JAMES: Because we didn't get to this point in our season by me taking over every game. I kind of laugh at it when I hear from you guys, when I do my media availability, people saying take over the game. My presence on the floor is much bigger than what numbers talk about. When you have a young superstar like this guy [Irving], you have Kevin, who's a superstar as well, and they've helped us get to this point, so you don't just throw in the kitchen sink because we lose two games or we didn't play as well as we could. There may be a time when I may have to have one of those big games, but until then, just relax.

Q. LeBron, with the limited minutes you've been able to play the last two games and the type of basketball you potentially have ahead of you here, what does it do for your body to be able to only play under 32 minutes in a Game 5?
LeBRON JAMES: It's great for sure. Any time you're able to clock in under, for me, 35 minutes, it's great. But my body has been trained all season to do whatever it takes. Tonight was one of those instances where I didn't need it as much, but I've trained my body over quite a few months now to -- whatever Coach needs me, whenever this team needs me, I'll be ready for it.

Q. You said earlier today on Uninterrupted that you like the pressure of Game 5 because it's going to show you what this team is all about. What do you think the team showed tonight?
LeBRON JAMES: That they were ready for it as well. They were ready for this moment. Our crowd was ready for this moment. They were amazing, as always. Give a lot of thanks to those guys. They were amazing from the beginning. It starts with our floor general. Our floor general came out, and I think he had 12 in the first quarter. He got to where he wanted to get on the floor, his pull-up was working, his three in transition was working; e led the team, put us in position to succeed. And obviously Kev had a huge first quarter as well. Everybody else just followed their lead after that.

Q. LeBron, you guys were so dominant in rebounding tonight, but when you're playing against a team that has so many big guys like the Thunder, how can you be sure you maintain the same great performance in rebounding?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, for us, rebounding is always a big part of our staple, especially for Double-T [Tristan Thompson] and for Kevin, for myself, and Ky is starting to get down there a little bit as well. We want to get stops. We want to defend, and when you're able to make a team miss, you want to clean the glass, and we were able to do that tonight. We held them under their shooting averages obviously from the previous two games, so we were able to clean the glass and that allowed us to get out on our break.

Q. The home and road games have been so wildly different in this series. I wonder what it will take to have a performance like this away from this arena in this series.
KYRIE IRVING: Well, I had to take a step back from -- just a realization of what the first two series were like for us in Detroit and Atlanta, and I think that for me, I would say Chicago last year. I didn't necessarily play, but it was just really, really loud. I could say that those two games in Toronto were probably my first legitimate two road games that I've experienced in my playoff career, and it was just -- our communication, everything had to be a lot sharper, and we took a lot that we had to learn from that game, including myself. I know I probably wasn't the only guy that felt that way, but this guy to my right [James] has experienced way more playoff games and true road tests, and going into Game 6, I feel a little bit more prepared than I was going in to Game 3 and 4 of knowing what to expect, what it's going to be like, what to expect from my teammates and what to demand from them as well, on both ends of the floor, and how to play.

It was just a great test for us, and you can see that we've won three at home and they've won two. Game 6 will definitely be a great atmosphere that I'm looking forward to, and my teammates are as well.

Q. For both of you, how do you take this aggression that you had from the start tonight into Toronto on Friday?
LeBRON JAMES: It's a huge key to our success. If we understand that, we put ourselves in the best possible chance of winning. We showed it in Toronto Game 3 and Game 4 when we got down 16 or 18. We showed we're capable of doing -- all the way down to Game 4 we had a chance to win. We've got to come out from the beginning, and it starts with the Big Three. It starts with myself, Kev and Ky, and we've got to do a great job of pushing the tempo, getting these guys ready, and we'll be much better. We'll be more prepared. Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan in 3 and 4, and we didn't execute it. But we'll be more prepared.

Q. We've talked a little bit about this before, and then today you've been mentioning about being calm and why. I'm curious what your streak of consecutive series with at least one road win means to you, and put it within the context of you've got one more chance to extend that to 25 on Friday.
LeBRON JAMES: Well, you were the first person to bring it up to me. I had no idea. I really don't play my career off accomplishments. If they happen, so be it. I've been blessed to be in a position where I can play the game that I love and be around some great guys, and my kids get an opportunity to see me do some special things.

My only mindset is to at this point get our guys mentally and physically prepared for a heck of a game on Friday night in Toronto, and if we're able to come home victorious, then the streak continues. If not, we prepare for Game 7. But that's my mindset. My mindset has never been about, I guess, records or streaks or things of that nature.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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