Game 4 of the NBA Finals was for everyone who had (rightfully) proclaimed that the playoffs had been lackluster as a whole. Let’s take a look at the bullet points from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 137-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors:
KD Not a Champion Yet
I advised my Twitter followers yesterday to swallow some Tums in preparation of Kevin Durant possibly becoming an NBA champion later that evening. That didn’t happen thanks to a banner night for the Cavaliers, but it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion considering that no team has even come back from the 3-0 deficit the Cavs were in.
Although he scored 35 points, Durant had as inefficient of a night as he’s turned in all postseason. He shot just 9-0f-22 from the field and notched just two of his seven attempts from deep. Simply put: LeBron and the Cavaliers are going to need to force Durant to have a few more of these performances if they want to have a chance at a miraculous comeback.
KD hasn’t made it to the mountain top yet, but it seems like it’s just a matter of time.
Cavs Outshooting the Shooters
The Cavaliers were supposed to be the team that bullied teams and beat them into submission into the paint, as opposed to a team based around finesse and shooting like the Warriors.
Last night, though, the Cavs bested the Warriors at both.
Cleveland’s shooting was historic: they made 24 three-pointers, an NBA Finals record. One more made three and the Cavs would tie their own NBA team record from 2016.
Kevin Love made 6-of-8. Kyrie notched 7-of-12. JR Smith? 5-of-9. Lebron even banged home three of his eight attempts.
This led to a halftime (!!!) lead of 86-68 for the Cavaliers, who, despite coming back down to earth, kept the pressure on the Warriors with timely threes. That kind of shooting will be necessary for the Cavs to have a chance in Game 5 and beyond.
The Draymond Green Switch-a-Roo
When Draymond Green received (what I thought was) his second technical foul in the third quarter, I thought to myself, “Wow! I genuinely can’t believe the referees actually ejected Green.” Known around the league as a passionate, emotive player, Green often gets the benefit of the doubt when arguing with refs.
But not this time…or so I thought.
Doris Burke reported otherwise:
I can safely say that I have never seen a situation like this. As Burke reported, the referees actually intended to call Green’s first technical on Warriors coach Steve Kerr, bailing Green out and allowing him to stay in the game.
It did not impact the final score of the game, but if the Warriors had ended up winning, Cleveland would have burned last night.
I’m calling shenanigans.
Early Success Vital for Cavs
A great start will put you in a great place to succeed. A 49 point first quarter, though? You’re virtually guaranteed to win.
Although nothing is guaranteed against a team like the Warriors, it’s nearly impossible to rebound from a quarter in which you gave up that many points. To my eye, it showed in their body language a bit — the Dubs didn’t seem quite as springy as they were in the first three blowout games.
The Cavs also shot 20 free throws in the quarter, which gave the Cavs easy points and a chance for Lebron to rest. Additionally, it put Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green into foul trouble with two apiece.
Game 5 will tip off Monday at 8 P.M. CST at Oracle Arena in Oakland.