With Golden State’s 103-82 win over Cleveland earlier today at the Quicken Loans Arena, the fourth game of the NBA Finals definitely did not produce the same excitement that we all enjoyed in the first three outings. The Warriors’ blowout victory did not give the Game 4 thriller every hoop fan was expecting but hey, now we have an assurance that the championship is extended to at least six games. More basketball from Stephen Curry’s Dubs and LeBron James’ Cavs is a legit reason to celebrate and we’ve got Steve Kerr and his charges’ brilliant effort to thank for it.
Right below is the full story of the Bay Area ballers’ huge bounce back game and a few musings on what the two battling teams should do on Game 5.
1) LEBRON JAMES HAS COME BACK TO EARTH
After playing like a superhero in the past three games, LeBron’s 20 markers off of a 7 per 22 clip proved that he’s human after all. He did have 12 boards and 8 dimes so he’s still amazing. However, without LeBron’s herculean production, Cleveland can’t compete with Golden State. It’s hard to point a finger on Bron for not leading the Cavs to victory because of the tremendous load he’s had to carry in the first three games. On that note, we’re giving King James a pass today.
Effect on series: Considering LeBron’s caliber, Golden State should prepare for the King on god mode as he’ll surely be out to redeem himself from his so-so Game 4. On the other end, after successfully slowing down the James Train, the Dubs have gained more confidence on the defensive end and that does not bode well for the Cavs.
What King James must do: Cleveland just doesn’t have the collective talent to hang with Golden State. Bron has no choice but to suck it up, and wear his superman cape two more times to have a realistic shot at winning the title.
Video via NBA
2) IMAN SHUMPERT AND J.R. SMITH M.I.A.
The ex-Knicks once again played as if they’re still suiting for New York. The swingmen were on tank mode. Shumpert and Smith combined for an anemic 9 points on 4 for 21 shooting. To win games, LeBron’s just needs just a little help from his guys but he virtually didn’t get anything from these two.
Effect on series: With Iman and J.R. shooting the long ball like Dwight Howard, the Cavs’ offense is just too weak. The duo’s exquisite brickmanship definitely boosts the chances of the Dubs to go all the way significantly.
3) CLEVELAND'S FRONTCOURT WAS BIG BUT NOT BIG ENOUGH
Mozgov had 28 points and 10 rebounds as he continues to turn into a real monster. If you told us that Timofey will be the leading scorer in Game 4 of the 2015 NBA Finals, we would have labeled you the biggest fool in the world. But he did it. His frontcourt partner Tristan Thompson was pretty good too, with 12 and 13. These two extra-large men practically brought the Cavs back in the third period. Golden State’s speed was the answer to these two but it’s obvious that Timofey and Tristan are huge obstacles that the Warriors still need to overcome.
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Effect on series: Golden State will go small a lot more. Steve Kerr will be contented to give up a few offensive boards in exchange for several quick, easy baskets. It’ll boil down to the Cavs’ size versus the Dubs’ speed.
What Golden State must do: They’ve got to stick with the winning formula, which is to play small ball. More Iguodala, Barnes, Green and Lee on the floor and less Bogut. Sorry, Andrew you’re just too slow.
4) STEPHEN CURRY SOLVES HIS DELLY PROBLEM
Stephen Curry finished with 22 points and 6 assists. He didn’t have eye-popping numbers but he hasn’t looked more comfortable in the Finals more than today. The MVP picked his spots perfectly, his three-balls weren’t forced, he was able to get in the lane as he pleased and the dejected look we’ve seen from him in the past two games was absent. But perhaps, the best thing the Warriors fans saw from him was how easily he shook off Matthew Dellavedova’s D. Delly’s defense has looked like it was Curry’s Achilles’ heel as of late but it definitely wasn’t this in this game.
Video via GD's Final Highlights
Effect on series: As of Game 3, nobody in Cleveland, Ohio can stay in front of Stephen Curry except Matthew Dellavedova. But as of today, it seems like Golden State’s ace player has Delly all figured out. If that holds true, Cleveland is in big trouble.
What Cleveland must do: Today, Steph was awesome in using a screen from his big to get away from his defensive man. Delly needs to fight hard through those picks because if he can’t, Curry will undoubtedly decimate the guy who’ll switch on him. Just ask Tristan Thompson.
5) IGGY REALLY GOT IGGY WITH IT
Andre Iguodala was on point both on defense and offense. He did a great job in defending LeBron one-on-one and his stroke was sweet as he went for 22 points, which includes four triples. He’s been a huge lift for Golden State all series long. If the championship had been decided today, he can make a case for winning the Finals MVP plum.
Video via GD's Final Highlights
Effect on series: Like how the Mozgov/Thompson tandem has been hurling chaos towards Golden State, Iggy has been the main disruptor of Cleveland’s rhythm. If Iggy continues to be a huge factor on both ends, the Cavs’ size advantage wouldn’t hurt the Warriors too much.
What the Cavs should do: Make Iggy work harder. David Blatt should have LeBron attack the one-time All-Star more aggressively to tire him out and possibly get him in foul trouble. With the consummate veteran not operating at a hundred percent, Golden State will lose a huge chunk on their life meter—an opening the Cavs should pounce on.
6) GSW SHOW WHAT STRENGTH IN NUMBERS MEAN
Strength in numbers—that has been Golden State’s battle cry all season and they certainly lived up to it in Game 4. What we saw were the Dubs playing their best brand of team ball in the Finals yet. Just get a load of these numbers: Curry and Iggy had a total of 44 markers, and Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, who were both terrible in Game 3, came back with 17 and 14 points, respectively. David Lee and Klay Thompson combined for 18 buckets and the rest of the bench compiled 10 points. Everybody who played, except for Mr. Bogut, contributed offensively. As a result, they had their best first 24 minutes in the series, wherein they led 54-42. Without having to play catch-up, the Warriors were able to put together a juggernaut 27-12 4th quarter run that ended up being a 21-point win.
Effect on series: The Dubs huge win obviously swung back the momentum back towards Golden State. Steph and company will enter Game 5 with the confidence and composure they never had entering the finals. Look for LeBron to have one of those Jordanesque games but expect for the Warriors to respond to the King’s challenge.
- Don’t let a small dude switch on David.
- Deny the entry pass to Lee, trap the passer.
- Attack him on defense.