Game 4 was a tale of two halves: in the first half, Cleveland’s defense and rebounding powered them to a five point halftime lead. However, even with that there were some cause for concern if you were Cavs fan, most prominently Thompson and Curry were starting to find their respective rhythms and there was some offensive stagnation derived from iso-ball and a LeBron James who seemed hellbent on passing on as many scoring opportunities as possible.
In the in the second half of the Cavaliers defense was mistake prone constantly and this was exploited by the Warriors, leading to wide-open shots for not only Thompson and Curry but others as well. Golden State took became more effective on the glass, particularly with offensive rebounding, which lead to multiple extended possessions and second chance points. Stephen Curry resembled the MVP we have seen all season, and finished with 38 points and 6 assists. His fellow splash brother Klay Thompson ended with 25 point. Harrison Barnes, one of the few offensive bright spots in Game 3, continued his solid play with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Draymond Green chipped in with 9 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and was caught up in another situation delivering a shot (allegedly) to another player’s nether region; the victim this time: Lebron James. The incident happened after the two got tangled up as Green was attempting to set a screen on James. Green went down and as Lebron stepped over him, it appears his right flies up to deliver the shot to the stones. Although no flagrant was accessed at the time, it is a play James said post game he believes the league will take a look at. Draymond is a flagrant-1 away from a suspension as a result from him using Steven Adams’ groin as a kickpad during the Western Finals.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s offense devolved into essentially Kyrie Irving and LeBron James taking turns playing hero ball. While Irving played well and was efficient, making half of his 28 shots in the course of scoring his 34 points, at times his over dribbling bogged down the offense and turned his teammates into spectators. James, although he had another near triple double with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists on 11-21 from the floor, at times he was too passive, several times getting into the lane and jumping in the air not looking to score but to pass, and the lead to passes off the mark and turnovers.
Irving and James combined +/- ratio was a -23 and they both looked fatigued at the close of the game they played the entire second half. As a team Cleveland’s offense went stone cold in the fourth quarter, including going 6:36 without a field goal.
For Golden State, game 5 will be as Stephen Curry said of game four, ” business as usual”, as they got back to doing the things that made them a 73-win ballclub this season. As, for Cleveland, it’s again a case of needing to free up their key players for better looks, and not attempting to play one-on-one for 48 minutes. Ball movement and player movement needs to be the order of the evening. If not, for the second straight season they will witness a Warriors’ championship celebration.