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June 8, 2016

Kyrie Irving

LeBron James

J.R. Smith

Cleveland, Ohio: Game Three

Cleveland 120, Golden State 90

Q. Gentlemen, the Cavaliers have effectively frozen the pond for the Splash Brothers during the first three games of The Finals. What are you doing differently? How are you keeping them from getting to their spots, getting open looks, and how do you plan to maintain that momentum in Game 4 on Friday night?
KYRIE IRVING: It's just team awareness, especially with those two guys, knowing their impact and how they can affect the game. Those guys can get it going in bunches, and you saw Steph in the third quarter, as well as Klay in the second quarter when those guys just have the ability to get downhill, as well as spray out to the three-point line. So just having our antennas on the defensive end, but as well as making them work on the offensive end while we're just being aggressive.

Guys were getting in spots, and it's both teams are getting up and down the floor. Being able to shoot jump shots effectively while guys are getting up and down, you know, the three-pointer, that you come down and shoot on the first possession is a little different from the eighth possession. Guys are in your face, and we just try to make it difficult for those guys.

But it's a total team effort on our end, and Swish [J.R. Smith] does a great job on Klay. I just try to pick up Steph as high as possible, and our bigs do a great job getting up to touch. So great job on just total team awareness.

Q. Kyrie, you looked like a different player tonight. You were very aggressive. Your coach talked about it. What made the difference for you, and also if you could talk about your passing connection with LeBron tonight, which worked well for you?
KYRIE IRVING: We just talked about our 1-4 in shootaround, our 1-4 in pick-and-roll with me and him, with us leading our guys offensively. It's just working really well for us, as well as the switches. I know that I can't play in between or be indecisive, especially with guys in front of me. Just constantly in attack mode. I know my teammates consistently want me to do that, possession by possession, whether it's getting downhill or shooting jump shots or whatever it is.

You know, it was two games, going from Game 1 of playing a little bit too much iso, and then Game 2, kind of just not being in my rhythm, in my rhythm and then coming into Game 3 it was, I don't want to say a completely different player, but it's just back to just not really thinking about anything except for being aggressive for my teammates.

Q. LeBron, for somebody who understands the history of the game as well as you do, best two teams in basketball in theory. How do you equate losing by 30 and winning by 30 in such short order? Especially when you're whole to start one game, and then not whole with Kevin in the locker room, how do you make sense of the 63-point turnaround?
LeBRON JAMES: At the end of the day, no matter if you lose by 30 or 1, it's just one win. And you have to be able to have a short mind but also learn from the mistakes that you made the previous game and just try to better yourself in the following game. And that's what we're able to do. We had a great shootaround yesterday. We had a great shootaround this morning. Coach Lue and the coaching staff gave us a great game plan and it was just up to us to go out and execute that, and I think we did that tonight.

Q. LeBron, for a couple days you had talked about needing to compete harder and play harder, effort. Ty just said the same thing. In a Finals, how can that be the issue? Do you feel like your guys have gotten over it?
LeBRON JAMES: Don't think it's an issue. You know, it's just something that we wanted to pinpoint and do better. You could say we wanted to move the ball better the next game. We want to dribble-drive the next game. Those are not issues. Those are things that we want to be better at in the next game, and I think we did that tonight.

Q. LeBron, can you recall a play previously in your career where you were on the floor after a steal and were able to recover and get up? And then J.R. said he doesn't like to throw good lobs on purpose. Kyrie, were you trying to do that as well?
KYRIE IRVING: I wanted to see something great. I threw it very, very -- you know, some people may say it's a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great, and for him to do that, it was awesome. It was awesome.

LeBRON JAMES: Well, it started with the defense just trying to get my hand on Steph's pass, and I was able to get a deflection, and he kind of bumped me a little bit, kind of threw me off a little bit, and I was able to regather from off the floor. I knew we had a break going, and I didn't know exactly which one of my teammates was running the left wing until I got back up off the ground and saw Kyrie. I threw it to Kyrie and I made, I think it was Klay, just shift a little bit, and I knew he was going to throw it up there. And I had to go get it. He threw it, I had to go get it.

Q. So much was made of the narrative of the second units and the difference of the contributions. Now you win a Game 120-90. But the first unit, you guys went 105-57. How do you make sense of that kind of dominance between the starting lineups against that team? Offense, defense, can you describe what the key is there to win by 50 points?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, they're a great team and they have a great starting lineup, and they have great complementary players that come off the bench. It's never about us versus their starting five. It's about the whole 15 group. Our 15 guys versus their 15 guys and who can execute as close to 48 minutes as possible.

We did a great job, and I gave the game ball to RJ. Getting the start tonight with Kevin being out, he just came in with so much aggression, so much attention to detail. He was on the glass. He gave us eight rebounds and nine points. But some of the things that he was doing out on the floor did not show up in the boxscore.

So we just want to try to play our game. We finally got back to our game tonight, and it started with the floor general to my left. The sharpshooter to my right got it going, and it was just good basketball. It was a good flow, and everyone felt like they were a part of tonight's win. So it was just a collective team win. It wasn't about us versus their starting five. It was just about how everyone can get the job done whoever is on the floor.

Q. J.R., given the way that the first two games of The Finals went for you, what did it mean to seemingly have the first play of the game called for you to get a three? How does that help your confidence to get one of those shots up early?
J.R. SMITH: I mean, it really doesn't do much for my confidence, honestly. I let that side of my brain turn off. I mean, I look at it, it's a great opportunity to start the game off, but I know how I want to dictate the game, and that's on the defensive end and trying to stop Klay as much as I can. Try not to let him catch the ball. Make it tough for him as much as I can, and let that dictate my offense. Let that dictate my offensive transition, get open shots, play from there.

But for the most part, I mean, it's great. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the look, but it's not really what I'm looking for.

Q. J.R., did anybody say or your teammates say anything to encourage you just because I think you only had eight points in the first two games that you had to get your rhythm back? Even though that shot at halftime didn't count, did that give you a lift?
J.R. SMITH: I mean, once we got home, honestly -- well, since 1 and 2, my teammates have been talking to me, stay aggressive, be aggressive. When you get the ball, take your shot. If you don't have it, give it up. But for the most part everybody's been supportive. Since we landed the other day, it was pretty much like a clean slate. Get back in the gym. Get back to our routines. Drive the same route I go to the gym every day, and just get back on our home floor and play the right way.

Q. LeBron, tonight I think you started 4-of-4 and then you struggled and got it going in the second half. Can you take us through your roller coaster shooting, and what got you going again in that second half, especially with your jumper?
LeBRON JAMES: My teammates got me going. They told me to be aggressive, and that's what I was.

Q. J.R., LeBron was heard in the pregame huddle saying, "Follow my lead." When he tells you that, what does that mean to you? And Kyrie, what does that mean to you and what's the impact?
J.R. SMITH: I mean, for me I just know he's going to go out there and be aggressive on both ends. I know he's going to go out there and communicate and be the quarterback for us. When that happens, like he said, just follow his lead. I've just got to be that lockdown corner that I am when I'm playing my game, and just follow his lead as much as I can until it's time for Kyrie to take over. It's kind of early, but it helps.

KYRIE IRVING: Just realizing the magnitude of what's about to happen, going out there and battling, understanding that we're being led by a great player. We all understood that. We all know our roles. We know what to expect from one another, but the platform that we're on, understanding the moment, he does a great job of dialing us in. We understood coming back home. Didn't necessarily play well on the road, now we're coming back. Our leader is looking us all eye to eye and telling us, let's go to war.

Q. LeBron how different is this team when it gets a contribution like it did tonight from Jump Shot Jesus over here?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, he's like you said, he's a two-way player. Defensively all year long that's what he's been doing. The offense comes very free to him and very easy, but the defensive side is what's making him so great. The contribution that we got from him from the scoring was all predicated on what he did defensively, you know, and he got in great rhythm. He hit some huge shots for us tonight, obviously, but I think it all started on the defensive end where he was much better than he was offensively.

Q. There was a play after the whistle where Steph was trying to go up and do a lay-up or a dunk I guess to try to get it him rhythm and you blocked his shot. Was that a way to set the tone that there wasn't going to be any easy shots tonight? And can you talk a little bit about how much better your defensive communication was tonight.
LeBRON JAMES: Oh, well, when you have the greatest shooter in the world trying to get an easy one or trying to get in rhythm, it's our job to try to keep him out. No matter if it's after the whistle or not. That was just my mindset. Anytime, if you're a great player and you see the ball go in, no matter if it's after the play or during the play, then you start feeling it. Not that you feel good because you know what you're capable of, but it helps. So I didn't want him to see the ball go in, even though he still made some.

Q. Kyrie, we talked a little bit on Monday about aggressiveness and playing between it and things like that. But that was mostly in regard to your shooting. Obviously in the first quarter you lit it up from a shooting standpoint, but you also had three assists. Was there a concerted effort to facilitate as much as you did in that first quarter as well?
KYRIE IRVING: Just understanding spacing and where guys were going to be. I knew that getting down and getting into the paint, I'm able to be aggressive for my shot. But in the beginning of the game, I just knew where guys were going to be. I'm coming off pick-and-rolls, and we have guys in specific spots, and they just made my job a lot easier coming in and seeing a lot of bodies in the paint, and I am able to just draw some eyes and kick out to our shooters.

Q. How much did you playing in the post tonight change the dynamic of this game? And what was your approach to Draymond?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I mean, I just wanted to play a little bit inside and outside. I started off the game going in the interior and just trying to fan out their defense a little bit. We did a great job of spacing out with RJ, with Ky, and also with Swish, so it gave me a little bit more room to work down in the post.

I missed a ton of chippies, but I was loving the space that I was getting and my teammates created for me. So just kind of following the game plan. It's something that we wanted to do tonight and were able to execute it.

Q. How much did you guys change defensively what you wanted to do? It looked like you weren't switching as much as you were in the first two.
LeBRON JAMES: Coaching staff gave us a game plan and we went out and executed it.

Q. You've heard it from us over the last couple days of asking you if you're going to take over this game, if you're going to do this or do that. When it was official that Kevin Love was going to be out for this game, did you have to change your approach at all going into this game or you pretty much played like yourself?
LeBRON JAMES: No, I didn't change my approach, and I didn't take over this game. Kyrie pretty much took over the game, especially early and late. He closed the game out. He started the game, and I just sprinkled in, you know, my production along the whole game.

He took the game over, I guess, from that standpoint. I just try to lead these guys to victory.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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