Imagine if the Golden State Warriors had won the first two games in the NBA Finals at home, and then the Cavaliers came home and did the same at Quicken Loans Arena.
There would be much more optimism around the hometown today, wouldn’t there?
But the series would still be tied at two games apiece heading into Sunday night’s contest in Oakland. This means there is no need to panic.
However, after that game, somebody will have their collective backs to the wall. One team will be able to win the NBA Championship on Tuesday night.
Yes, the Cavs showed fatigue playing their third game in five days (with a cross-country trip mixed in between), and that takes more of a toll on them because they are really playing seven players because of the injuries to all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
There were reports yesterday that several of the Cavaliers’ veterans were upset with David Blatt about not playing more guys, and hindsight being 20/20, he probably should have on Thursday.
On the other hand, he was simply doing what worked in the first three games, and that strategy gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead in the series. The guess here is the coach will play more guys come Sunday night, giving Mike Miller and Shawn Marion, if healthy some time on the court.
The fatigue contributed to a horrible shooting performance from outside by the wine and gold, as they hit just 4 of 27 from behind the three-point line in Game 4, with only Matthew Dellavedova hitting more than one (2 of 9), and J.R. Smith missing all eight of his tries.
The main culprit in the Cavs’ eyes was Andre Iguodala, who had another crazy shooting night, much like the first game, which was the only other contest the Warriors have won.
The veteran swingman scored 22 points on 9 for 15 shooting, including hitting 4 of 9 from behind the arc. As we said after game one, those kind of performances do not happen often for Iguodala, so the chances for it occurring twice in four games is probably astronomical.
Cleveland is holding the “Splash Brothers” under 50 points per game in the series, as they have combined for 172 in the four games, but the added production of Iguodala is both unexpected and damaging to the Cavs’ hopes.
Many experts are giving Steve Kerr mad props for his lineup switch, but if Iguodala had a normal shooting game, we wonder how much praise he would be getting.
Timofey Mozgov abused the smaller Warriors’ lineup for 28 points and Tristan Thompson added 12 more for the wine and gold. The real reason for the defeat was the Cleveland guards simply couldn’t make a shot. That happens. The bigger question is will it happen again?
The players that Blatt depends on for outside scoring (Dellavedova, Smith, Iman Shumpert, and James Jones) made 7 of 38 shots in the fourth game. That’s 19%. While it’s possible they could shoot that poorly again, it’s certainly not probable.
And remember that this was a six point game heading into the final quarter, so while the Warriors won going away, Cleveland certainly had a chance to win heading into the final quarter.
Golden State dominated the first half, but were only up six going into the final 12 minutes.
Can the Cavs win Game 5? Well, they’ve already won a game in Oakland this series, so they certainly can. They needed the two days off between games, and they now have a chance to adjust to the changes Kerr made before Thursday.
We will stick with what we said before the series started. If they can hold Curry and Thompson under 50 points, they have a good chance to win. The biggest key now has become Andre Iguodala.