warriors, cavs locked and loaded for game 5
It’s 3-1 again in the NBA Finals.
As if you needed any reminding, both teams were in the same position last year. The Warriors, up 3-1 a year ago, needed to win one of the next three games. This year is slightly different. The Warriors, up 3-0 to start, only need to win one game out of a possible four. Aside from that slight difference, here we are once again.
The Warriors need to win one of the next three games to be crowned NBA Champions. But please, don’t let it take three games. Don’t let it go past Game 5, for cryin’ out loud!
With the Warriors one game away from a historic postseason last Friday night, it took a historic game from the Cavaliers to keep the series alive and prevent history themselves.
The record-setting performance by Cleveland included a Finals record for three-pointers in a game (24, overtaking the previous record of 18 set by the Warriors in Game 2 this year), most points in any quarter in Finals history (49), and most points in a half in Finals history (86). Even after their historical start, for most of the game it still felt like the Warriors would inevitably go on one of those scoring-runs and tie the game.
Obviously, that never happened. But I find myself in a weird place now, after Game 4.
I’m both confident Golden State can end the series tonight, and I’m nervous because history repeats itself…and, not to beat a dead horse, here we are at 3-1 again…I simply can’t forget what happened last year. Especially after seeing Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot so poorly, which in and of itself is eerily reminiscent of their Game 7 performances last year. The two combined for 27 points in Game 4, still eight shy of Kevin Durant’s 35 points.
I know the Cavs won’t be able to recreate that performance, even if they were the second best three-point shooting team in the league this year. The Warriors, on the other hand, will likely shoot better than the 28 percent they shot from downtown. Reversion to the mean should be expected for both teams.
Another factor working in Cleveland’s favor in Game 4 was – I’m not talking about the refs here – their home-court advantage. Role players tend to play better at home. For the Cavs, their role players missed the team flight to Oakland.
But hey, there they were in Game 4 (and J.R. Smith in Game 3) making their presence felt. I mean, Deron Williams actually made a shot! But really, just look at how Kyrie Irving played. And yes, I’m calling Irving a role player, because what is Kyrie’s role? To get buckets. Kyrie Irving is there to score. Irving didn’t score as many as 25 points in either Game 1 or 2. Back in Cleveland, Kyrie averaged 39 points in two games.
One could say the Warriors just need to play better defense on Kyrie and LeBron in Game 5. But that’s the dumbest gameplan of all time. For starters, forget about guarding LeBron. And secondly, as if simply “playing harder” always gets the job done. There’s a reason Kyrie is in the NBA, and it’s the same role he’s always had – he can get score the basketball.
To quote Rhah from a scene in Platoon, “the only thing that can kill Barnes, is Barnes.” Applied here, the only thing that can stop Kyrie, is Kyrie. The defense doesn’t matter. It all comes down to whether he’s making shots. In Cleveland, he was making shots. The Warriors need to hope that changes at Oracle.
The series doesn’t end for the Warriors tonight if they lose. They’ll still have two more chances to get it done. But it won’t get any easier than it will be tonight.
Curry, get back on track. You’re already on pace to miss out on Finals NBA for the third straight year. Durant, keep doing what you’ve been doing (average over 30 points this series). Thompson, get back to that suffocating defense. And Draymond, for the love of God, keep your head on straight.
The Cavs will fly back to Cleveland regardless of Game 5’s result.
Golden State, don’t meet up with them when they get there.