After the Cavs’ game four win over the Warriors, here are my initial thoughts. More on the podcast tomorrow.
1) Cavaliers do exactly what they need to do
LeBron said after game three that you need to have an “A++” performance to beat this Warriors team and they had something pretty darn close to that. All three of their big man showed up and role players provided the support they needed. What won’t be discussed about enough is how much James was allowed to take a stretch easy or rest more while on the physical court because of the way his teammates carried the load at times. This allowed the best player in the world to produce when he needed to instead of running out of gas.
Oh and by the way, welcome to the modern NBA because even though Cleveland allowed 116 points, they still slowed down Durant and Curry a ton considering who they are. An all-round, impressive performance with the closer ability that the Cavs failed to show in game three.
Sometimes it is just a team’s night and when the modern Deron Williams hits a three that breaks the record for most threes in an NBA Finals game, it is your night.
2) This game shows you exactly how great the Warriors are
LeBron James quietly put up a performance that has never been matched or bettered by anyone other than himself.
Meanwhile, Irving proved to be the closer yet again and the Warriors were still within striking distance for most of this game. Oh and by the way, Love fit into the third-man role perfectly while Williams hit his first bucket of the Finals and they were still in the game. While Golden State obviously did not want to lose this game, this just further cements their legacy as an all-time team.
3) Officiating issues is exactly what the NBA wanted
If you were watching the game, you saw the officiating mess that occurred in the third quarter with Draymond Green and then the ejection of a fan all within minutes of each other. Many, including me, were on Twitter and talking about how “embarrassing” it was for the league and I think the Green technical debacle still is. However, the great drama this game had is exactly what the NBA wanted coming into this series. Intrigue and personal feuds provide great conversation which is exactly what the league needed. This was a great night for the NBA.
1) Kyrie Irving
The man known as the closer on the Cavs further built on that legacy and notion tonight. The prime example of this was with 9:38 left in the game when Golden State cut the Cavs’ lead to 115-104 with momentum shifting. Before Irving drilled a three just 15 seconds later that was followed up with two more points on the next possession. 40 points, four assists, and seven rebounds looks impressive enough on a stat sheet, but when you add on top of that the fact that it was a timely performance, there is nothing left to say other than “wow.”
2) LeBron James
Isn’t this the most LeBron way to get a triple-double that surpasses Magic for the most in an NBA Finals? I mean don’t get me wrong — James had a great game — but maybe it is just because this is what we are use to, or because of Irving’s performance, but I didn’t even notice it to the extent in which I thought I would have. We tend to get use to greatness, but let’s not do that with LeBron because he just quietly got 31-10-11 during a time in which the pressure has been immense on him. This was his best tip to buzzer performance we have seen in this series.
3) Kevin Love
It is really easy to see the third member of the big three get an open three and dismiss it because of the wide open looks he so often is the beneficiary of. However, let’s realize he still has to make those and Love did that with consistency tonight. You add that on top of that the fact he had his best defensive performance of the series tonight and I thought he fit into his role perfectly.
1) Stephen Curry
Those who say Curry is a front runner are going to point to this game. I mean, they have a point. As soon as the going got tough in this game (right from the tip) Curry went into hiding. If you are going to do all that squatting and leg kicking you better back it up which he just flat out didn’t do; Curry deserves all the blame in the world he gets over the next several days.
2) Kevin Durant
I know I know, “but Nick, he had 35 points.” Yes, I am well aware. However, in the fourth quarter when it really counted Durant scored just four points and was awfully hard to find. This is why Golden State brought him here, for a night like this, when Curry and Thompson didn’t have their shot and he couldn’t deliver.
3) Draymond Green
I know he is the emotional rock of this team, but he continues to be too emotional. Way too often, Green puts his team in a bad position and distracts them from the overall goal. I mean at what point does someone on the Warriors’ staff speak up and say something to him?
Tomorrow: Podcast with my full breakdown of this game
-Article by Nick Friend