NBA Finals turn feisty

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CLEVELAND – LeBron James famously enters “Zero Dark 23,” a social-media blackout, during the playoffs.

Thankfully, Kyrie Irving doesn’t.

“You hear some chatter going on throughout the Warriors’ locker room in terms of them trying to end it here,” Irving said. “…That adds some extra motivation. And you give us a day in between, and we were ready to come out.

“Social media is everywhere. I mean, social media is just – it raises the bar, especially the attention that goes on with it. So, we see everything. I’ll be sitting up here lying saying that I didn’t see it.”

Said LeBron: “I didn’t hear it, but some of the other guys heard it and told me that that they wanted to celebrate on our floor once again and they wanted to spray champagne in our locker rooms, and I think it came from Draymond, which is OK. That’s Dray, anyway.”

Wait until they hear what Draymond Green – who drew a loud reaction when he was seemingly ejected (but actually wasn’t) from the Cavaliers’ Game 4 victory Friday – said in his latest interview.

“I don’t pay much attention to anybody in Cleveland, honestly,” Green said. “Don’t seem to be the sharpest people around.”

Green will have an opportunity not to return this season. This is still a 3-1 series, a historically overwhelming margin – especially with the leading team hosting Game 5.

But there is that one exception in the Finals. And these teams appear to be getting tired of each other entering their 25th matchup in the last three years.

The Cavs are hunting for motivation, and Golden State keeps providing plausible opportunities for them to find it.

Zaza Pachulia punched Iman Shumpert in the nuts and seemed to escape proper punishment. Stephen Curry (again) squatted at mid-court as Steve Kerr or Green picked up a technical.* And Green, at least in the eyes of Cleveland partisans, avoided an ejection he had coming.**

*I legitimately don’t know whether Curry was just stretching, giving his impression of the officiating or anything else. But Richard Jefferson sure appeared to have a reaction to it, and it looked out of place as heated argument was happening above Curry’s head. I asked Curry for an explanation, and he and Durant – rather emphatically – shut me down. Obviously, I still don’t know what Curry was doing. I’m curious Jefferson’s thoughts, though I didn’t get to Cleveland’s locker room tonight to ask him.

**Allowing Green to remain in the game was the right call.

“They aren’t going to punk us. Not me. They’re not about to punk Tristan Thompson,” Tristan Thompson said. “You got the game [expletive] up with that one. You can talk all you want but I’m definitely going to bark back. That’s just how I’m built.

The escalating tension led to one great moment, the best players in the series – Durant and LeBron – jawing with each other for a while.

“You can’t take the emotion out of the game,” Durant said. “We weren’t coming to blows. We were just talking. That’s a part of basketball. The game of basketball created that. The refs didn’t. We didn’t as players. It’s like the aura of the game created trash talk.

“I’m sure it’s going to continue. There’s nothing malicious, or we didn’t say anything malicious. It was just a part of the game. Emotions are what keeps this game alive.”

Durant has acquitted himself well to all this, including not being fazed by Dahntay Jones talking smack to him from the bench. Green might be the Warrior most comfortable in this environment, one that clearly benefited the Cavs overall tonight.

“I love this game. I love you all,” Green said after the loss. “I’m having a great time right now.

“Ain’t no tech going to stop me from being me.”

But what about the rest of Warriors?

“We’ve got to find our edge next game,” Curry said.