LeBron on Kyrie: 'That will go down in the all-time greatest performances in Finals history'

Posted at 1:59 AM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 01:59:53-04

Kyrie Irving dominated the floor in Oakland Monday night, scoring a whopping 41 points and earning the Cavaliers a spot in Game 6.

The Warriors noticed, the fans noticed and LeBron certainly noticed.

"That will go down in the all time greatest performances of Finals history by my point guard," James said after the Game 5 win. "He was spectacular tonight."

"He’s a very humble kid, very appreciative of this moment," he said of Kyrie. "But that was special. That was special."

As far as the win overall?

"We’re just happy we got another day. That’s all we can ask for," said James. "We got another day to survive and  you know we’re going to start preparing tonight, start preparing tomorrow and whenever Game 6 is, we’ll be ready."

James and Irving sat together for the post-game conference Monday night. Read the full transcript of the media conference below:

Q. For either one of you guys, how did Draymond Green's absence affect you offensively and also defensively?

LEBRON JAMES: I think from a mental standpoint it wasn't about anybody that was on the floor. We just had a mindset that we wanted to come in here and just try to extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day. And that was our main concern, and we were able to do that.

Q. Kyrie, do you have anything to add?

KYRIE IRVING: Yeah, I agree with LeBron.

Q. Last year after Game 5, I think I asked you a question that made significant headlines, and the answer was very controversial. Does a game like this in which you break crazy records, does it remind you of what inspired you to say that last year?

LEBRON JAMES: Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan, and as one of the leaders of the team, we just went out and executed. You've got a guy like this who is very special, it's probably one of the greatest performances I've ever seen live. To put on the show that he did, you just go out and follow the keys and play winning basketball, and we did that tonight.

Q. The both of you carried the offensive load on scoring for your team. Is that something that you can sustain? Is that something that is welcome, or is that something that you need to go back a little bit to the drawing board and get it spread out a little bit more?

KYRIE IRVING: I think our spacing was pretty good tonight in terms of where guys were positioning and our weakside action, which I've been talking about almost this whole series waiting for it to happen, and it happened. Guys were in the spots, and it opened and allowed myself and LeBron to see a lot of driving lanes. But also, if we saw guys coming over to help, we were ready to spread out to our teammates. Now, mind you, to repeat a performance like this would definitely be tough, but whatever it takes to win. I know myself and he over there, as well as echoing to my teammates, are willing to do, and we'll be very well prepared for Game 6. But that's the only thing that's on our mind right now. We're not satisfied. We understand the magnitude of what Game 6 means for us at home, and we know that it will be an incredible level that they're going to play at, and we have to play at an even better level.

Q. Your efficiency tonight, you were scoring consistently throughout the game at a very high clip. Is there something that -- is it a focus? What enabled you to perform like that and carry that through over the course of the entire game?

KYRIE IRVING: Just sticking with our game plan and going off the trust of my teammates as well as getting a lot of opportunities in transition that we weren't necessarily taking advantage of in Game 4, whether -- for whatever reason. But I think as well is the way we spaced out our lineups and when guys were coming in, relieving us and giving us a few minutes here and there, it gave us an incredible amount of energy that we needed to sustain the high level that we were playing at.

Q. LeBron, you just mentioned that Kyrie's game tonight was one of the best performances you've ever seen. And maybe that will affect how you answer this, but how does your game, the way you played tonight, compare with your Boston game from 2012, the 45-15?

LEBRON JAMES: I think the main thing is that we were able to give ourselves another chance. Going into Boston, being down 3-2, you know, we understood that, hey, listen, the season is over if we don't go out and try to take care of business. Being a big part of our success, I had to come out and do some things to help us win that ballgame, and tonight was just another example of that. Understood the magnitude of this game. I knew how great of a team we were playing, but I just had to come out and just -- I know my teammates trust me, I trust them, and that was the
result of it.

Q. Both of you guys have talked all series about trying to play the right way and make sure other guys stay involved. But I wanted to know, I'm curious, before this game did you guys know going in that it would have to take this, what you guys did, 82 points combined in order to get this win? Did you know you had to take it to another level

LEBRON JAMES: At this point, it's whatever it takes. Obviously making shots and things of that nature are something that you sometimes really can't control. Sometimes the ball go in; sometimes it don't. How hard you play, how locked in you are on the keys to get a victory, what the coaching staff put out for us. But he was -- obviously this guy was special, and we rode him to the victory line.

Q. Kyrie, the way you and LeBron match each other or mix with each other on the court has been scrutinized a lot the last two years in terms of whether there's redundant skills or whether you both need the ball in your hands. Is this a testament to how you guys have been able to play off one another and enhance each other's game? When did you find the right mix between each other?

KYRIE IRVING: When we stopped caring about what everyone else said. Honestly, what goes on in our locker room, I've said it multiple times, as long as we're taking care of what's going on in our locker room  internally, we can power through anything. Obviously it's not going to look perfect every single game, we understand that.
But I think that the trust factor was just a big thing. It's just been continuous and been consistent as we've continued to grow together. Just finding where he likes the ball, where he wants the ball, how effective he is around the perimeter as well as in the post and just giving him space to work, but as well as finding areas where I can be effective. The value of both of us as well as the rest of the team and how we're spacing is very important, and it just took a while to figure that out. But once we did, we just play our game and play basketball. That's what it's about.

Q. LeBron, you said this was one of the greatest performances you've ever seen in the Playoffs, and you've seen a lot of them. Kyrie's only played six games in the NBA Finals. What was it about his performance that really was epic for you?

LEBRON JAMES: Just calm. Just calm for 48 minutes. Obviously he played 40 minutes, but even in the 8 minutes that he was sitting down, he was just calm. Timely bucket after bucket that led our team. The fourth quarter, I mean, he hit timely shot after shot after shot when those guys were trying to get back into the game. Defensively he was phenomenal as well, guarding Steph and guarding the rest of those guys, whoever he was matched up on. They tried to post him a few times with Harrison Barnes, and he just made it tough on him. Got his hand on the ball a couple times on the post. He was just locked in on both sides of the floor. So that's what I saw, and that's why I said what I said.

Q. Kyrie, when looking at the shots that you made, very few of them were really open looks. I mean, Klay Thompson is a great defender. What was is that you saw tonight that made the ball go in the basket so often?

KYRIE IRVING: Just trusting the game, trusting the game plan, trusting my teammates. And the spacing out there tonight allowed me to get to certain spots on the floor where I could be effective.

Q. You seemed to have the ball in your hands more tonight than you have in quite a while, and Ty told us that was kind of by design. Why was tonight the right time to go back to that, and why did you want the ball in your hands?

LEBRON JAMES: Well, it's the only time. I mean, obviously it's do or die for us. Coach Lue said he wanted the ball in my hands a little bit more. I finally did a great job of not turning the ball over and got to my spots, got my teammates involved. Just tried to put us in position to be successful. Obviously it's not always a bed of roses on the court for 48 minutes, but you just try to go out there and trust your keys. That's something I'm very comfortable with, and I've been comfortable with before in the past. Coach wanted to make that adjustment, and I was able to take advantage of it when I had the ball in my hands.

Q. You've obviously played against a lot of -- or been in a lot of venues that have been hostile throughout your career, including the last two games against Toronto. How was it different tonight and how do you feed off the energy? Do you enjoy making the crowd go home like that? How do you feed off that energy?

LEBRON JAMES: I mean, I guess when you're done with a game of basketball and big moments like tonight and moments throughout your career you wish you could get back. No matter how loud you turn the stereo system up in your house, you'll never be able to get it back. You just don't take these moments for granted, no matter if you're at home or on the road. 

Q. Kyrie, just to follow up on Dave's question about when you guys started to click, you and LeBron. Was that in the Playoffs? The end of the season? I just wondered if you could -- a certain point where you sort of felt like it finally felt right?

KYRIE IRVING: To be honest with you, I can't give you like a specific date. 

Q. That's okay. Maybe a month?

LEBRON JAMES: That would classify as date (smiling).

KYRIE IRVING: March, March -- no, I don't know (laughing). The only thing that really matters is right now. I'm sorry, I can't answer a specific date or something like that.

Q. I was just thinking maybe the end of the last three or four weeks of the season.

LEBRON JAMES: I think it was then. I think it was like as soon as I was coming back to the team, I think we
clicked right away.

KYRIE IRVING: Yeah, when he announced he was coming back. I think that's it (laughing).

Q. Steph just scored five three-pointers. How did you guys do that?

KYRIE IRVING: We've got to be better in Game 6 in terms of the looks that he was getting that he normally
makes. We understand that we got lucky a few possessions where we have to stay locked in, including myself, where he's coming off those down screens. We understand he's going to hit some tough shots, but we have to limit some of those opportunities. He shot 14 of them coming off 11 in Game 4, I believe, and we just have to stay locked in and we have to be a little better.

Q. Obviously, there's plenty of motivation for you guys going in down 3-1, but was there any added fuel extra at all after Klay said what he said yesterday, after Speights tweeting and some of the sniping that was going on yesterday? 

LEBRON JAMES: First of all, I'm not on social media right now, so I don't even know what Speights said, and I really don't think that even matters (laughing). You guys make me laugh. I swear, you guys do. My only motivation is my teammates and my coaching staff, especially being in this building. It's just us, us versus the Warriors. They have an unbelievable fan base. So many other things that we have to be challenged about. So my only motivation is how can I be there for my teammates and my coaching staff. That's it. I mean, at the end of the day, nothing else
really matters.

Q. LeBron, it seemed like there was a little bit more action with you off the ball than maybe in Game 4. You had that nice dunk on the backdoor cut. I was curious if that was in there and what it does to have you moving off the ball as opposed to just holding it?

LEBRON JAMES: Well, I pride myself on not holding the ball as much. I did that early in my career, and I wasn't very successful. So I understand how to play efficient basketball. Also, when a guy has it going like Kyrie had it going, I'm able to find cracks and move without the ball and get it with the live dribble and things of that nature. And all our teammates do a great job of keeping the space, keeping it available for me to cut through the lane and things of that nature. Just try to be an outlet, an outlet when Kyrie doesn't feel like he has a great look and just try to put pressure on their defense.