We have come full circle. The Warriors once again have a 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers in the Finals.
The defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers have some fight left in them after all. They could have easily rolled over after the way Game 3 ended. Instead they punched the Golden State Warriors right in the face en route to a 137-116 win. The series will now shift back to Oakland for Game 5 on Monday night.
Game 4 resembled more a WWE Pay-per-view than a NBA game. The referees completely shit the bed. Matt Barnes got into it with a fan which led to the fan getting tossed. LeBron James and Kevin Durant started talking spicy as things started to get tense late. Draymond Green was ejected, then we wasn’t (more on that later). Zaza Pachulia Falcon Punched Iman Shumpert in the balls but yet remained in the game. It was a weird night.
Before we get to the actual game here are the records that were broken last night.
Cavs set postseason record for most points in the first quarter (49).
Cavs set postseason record for most points in a half (86).
Cavs and Warriors set postseason record for most total points scored in a half (154).
Cavs set postseason record for most three-pointers in a game (24) – breaking the record the Warriors set in Game 2 when they had 18.
LeBron passing Magic Johnson for most Finals triple-doubles (9).
Unofficially the longest aggregate time spent reviewing fouls (1 hour and 30 minutes).
Okay, the last one I made up, but still what a night.
The night started with the Warriors chasing history. If they completed the sweep they would be first team to go 16-0 in the playoffs. Now their best case is matching the 2001 Shaq-Kobe Lakers at 16-1.
Game 4 started a lot like Game 3, the Cavs were on fire from deep. J.R. Smith kicked things off once again with a three. The main difference from last night’s opening flurry to this night was Kyrie Irving joining the party early. LeBron James and Kevin Love got going quickly too, but it was Kyrie and J.R. who set the tempo with some tough fall away shots in addition to some threes.
Kevin Durant closed the gap once he started to assert himself halfway through the quarter, but the Cavs kept separation. Stephen Curry had an off night (14 points) which put the onus on Durant and Klay Thompson to carry the load. They were able to keep it under 15 points, but as the quarter came to an end the first of what end up being many odd moments occurred.
Draymond Green appeared to get a tech after arguing a flagrant foul call against him involving Iman Shumpert on a jump ball. The abuse of Shumpert would only get worse.
— The Fuzz (@TheFuzzNBA) June 10, 2017
The Cavs capitalized on Curry’s off night early. Without Curry hitting those momentum crushing threes the defending champs were able to put together some serious runs. Kevin Love caught fire in what had to be his Finals performance to date. He finished the night six-for-eight from three and scored 23 points.
Perhaps the biggest positive from this game does not involve Love’s performance from deep, LeBron’s 31-11-10 night or Kyrie’s 40 points. No, the biggest positive was the return of Tristan Thompson. The Cavs’ big man had come in averaging around four rebounds per game this series–last night he pulled down 10. His energy alone was what the Cavs have been lacking. With him engaged they look complete.
A majority of the second half was not noteworthy from a basketball perspective. The Warriors were essentially playing role reversal with the Cavs, chasing them the rest of the game. From an entertainment perspective, it had a little bit of everything.
LeBron thought it was NBA Street for a second and dubbed the Dubs with a Special Delivery.
Matt Barnes and a fan (a friend of a friend of LeBron – I don’t know why that matters but it’s still funny).
Matt Barnes just got into it with Todd Leebow, a friend of Rich Paul (LeBron attended his wedding) and Leebow was removed by security
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 10, 2017
All of this paled in comparison to the fiasco that was Draymond’s rescinded ejection. I know it has become second nature for the refs to hit him with a tech, but last night was the result of a quick whistle. He was given a tech in the second half which would mean his night was over with a second tech. That sent Steve Kerr flying off the bench.
The refs then went to the monitor screen, talked for five minutes then decided the first tech was actually on Kerr. If that sounds suspect it’s because it is.
Quick shoutout to Dahntay Jones who has not sniffed the court during the playoffs, but somehow has two techs including one from the bench last night. But back to the refs. Did they panic or just not have control of the game all night? The one positive that came from this was it cleared them of any bias towards the Cavs.
As we shift to Oakland on Monday night we will finally see how the Warriors handle their first loss. The last time they lost at full strength was in early March or late February. Klay Thompson had not yet signed a toaster.
Based on what we have seen so far this should not scare any Warriors fans. The Cavs played a historic game and still had to look over their shoulder late. That’s the type of firepower the Warriors are messing with. For the Cavs they just need one more game where the can’t miss. If this series somehow returns to Cleveland the pressure flips back to the Warriors.
The internet almost crashed when the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead last year. If they were to blow a 3-0 lead I’m not sure we’d survive. However unlikely that is, one thing is true. We get at least one more game.