James, Irving help Cavaliers force Game 6 in NBA Finals

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James and Irving Keep Cavaliers Alive in NBA Finals

OAKLAND, Calif., June 13 (Reuters) - LeBron James said this week that his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 held meaning beyond a single-minded quest for an NBA championship.

But for the man who has put Cleveland, a city in the midst of a 52-year major sports title drought, two wins away from a championship for a second straight year, having his season end in Game Five of the NBA Finals wasn't an option either.

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"I understood the magnitude of this game, I knew how great of a team we were playing. I know my teammates trust me, I trust them, and that was the result of it," James said after a season-saving win over the Golden States Warriors on Monday.

With the win the Cavaliers, powered by 41 points from both James and guard Kyrie Irving, pulled to within 3-2 in the NBA Finals and sent the best-of-seven championship series back to Ohio for Game Six on Thursday.

The game remained close until midway through the third quarter when the Cavs opened up an 11-point lead. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors could only muster 13 points and failed to stave off Irving and James, who had 12 and 5 respectively.

The absence of Warriors power forward Draymond Green, whose late-game kerfuffle with James on Friday lead to a one-game suspension and a war of words between the franchises, was a definite advantage according to Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.

"I've said it all along that he is the best guy in the NBA as far as reading when to help, triple switches and kicking guys out of mismatches, knowing when to go, when not to go," Lue told reporters. "He's an underrated shot blocker and he can guard one through five so that definitely help hurt their defense."

Only 10 teams in NBA history have successfully overcome 3-1 deficits, a feat most recently accomplished by the Warriors in the Western Conference final, but none have ever done it in the championship round.

Add to that the return of Green and the stakes for the Cavs' next do-or-die matchup are even higher.

For Irving's part, the high stakes match high expectations.

"We're not satisfied. We understand the magnitude of what Game Six means for us at home," Irving said.

PHOTOS: See highlights from Game 3

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NBA Finals Game 3 2016
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James, Irving help Cavaliers force Game 6 in NBA Finals
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates after scoring against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (9) and forward LeBron James (23) smile from the bench during the final seconds of game three of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers won 120-90. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson (24) celebrates with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones (30) after defeating the Golden State Warriors 120-90 in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) and forward Draymond Green (23) in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Larry W. Smith/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) knocks the ball away from Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the third quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reaches for the ball in front of Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the third quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots the ball as Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) defends during the first half in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball in front of Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) and guard Shaun Livingston (34) during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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