Cavs not motivated by underdog status, says coach

OAKLAND, United States – The Cleveland Cavaliers will not be motivated by their underdog status when they take on the Golden State Warriors in the 4th installment of their NBA Finals rivalry, coach Tyronn Lue said Tuesday, May 29.

The Warriors have been installed by Las Vegas bookmakers as heavy favorites to retain their NBA crown as they face the Cavaliers for a 4th straight year starting in Game 1 on Thursday, May 31 (Friday, June 1 in Manila).

The Warriors have won two of the 3 previous meetings, with the Cavaliers taking the 2016 crown after a miraculous fightback from 3-1 down.

Lue, however, says the fact the Warriors are most observers' pick for the title will not motivate his team.

"Our focus is winning championships, playing our best basketball," Lue said.

"Our main focus is to win a championship. We can't worry about what outside guys are saying.

"I don't think we need motivation. Any time you get to the finals you're playing for a championship and that's motivation in itself. 

"We don't have to thrive on that. Being in this position is enough."

The Cavaliers reached the finals after a wild Eastern Conference series with the Boston Celtics, sealing victory in Game 7 on Sunday with an 87-79 win on the road. 

The victory made Cleveland the first team to beat the Celtics at home during the postseason.

Lue said he believed the cornerstone of his team's success was defense.

"I think we've grown," he said. "We talk all season about getting better and better so that when we get to the playoffs we're playing our best basketball. 

"I think defensively we've really turned the corner. We're been playing really physical, getting stops."

Lue believes also that his team may benefit from playing a gruelling 7-game series against Boston, stating that the team would be battle-hardened heading into Game 1.

"I think our whole team has to be aggressive. We can't use Game 1 as a feel-out game. It's the first time we've come off a 7-game series in the finals and had only two or 3 days in between," Lue said. "Playing a Game 7 on Sunday in Boston will help us in Game 1." – Rappler.com