The Cavaliers stopped the Warriors from completing the first ever playoff sweep with a 137-116 victory in Cleveland. The Cavs came out hot in this one, and it never died down. LeBron and company did everything within their power to avoid being swept, as well as stop the Warriors from taking their title as reigning NBA Champions. As the series now shifts back to Oakland on Monday night, let’s take a look at my takeaways from game 4 of the NBA Finals.
1. Win the 3pt battle, win the game
The Cavs went off from 3pt range in this game, going 24-45 (53.3%). The Warriors on the other hand, went 11-39 (28.2%). The script was flipped as the Cavs had their best 3pt performance of the series, while the Warriors had their worst. In the first three games, the Cavs went 31-104 (29.8%) from 3pt range. The Warriors went 46-109 (42.2%). The Cavs knew they had to be better from 3pt range if they wanted a chance to stay in the series. They more than delivered in this department. Kevin Love went 6-8, Kyrie went 7-12, J.R. Smith went 5-9, and LeBron went 3-8. They even got some 3pt contributions from Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, and Deron Williams (Scored his first points of the Finals in this game). It’s going to be tough to stay that hot from outside for the rest of the series, but the Cavs don’t have a choice if they want to beat the Warriors three more times.
2. The Warriors aren’t the greatest team ever
There’s been a lot of talk about this Warriors team being the greatest team of all time. I never bought into that for one second. I’ll admit, this Warriors team is dominant. They were almost the first team in NBA history to go 16-0 in the playoffs, but even if they completed the playoff sweep, I wouldn’t have given them the title of greatest team. The level of competition they’ve played in the playoffs this year hasn’t been great. The Blazers, Jazz, and Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs aren’t something to brag about when saying you swept them. The Blazers barely made the playoffs. The Jazz were improved this year, but still not an elite team. The Spurs without Kawhi are just not good. The reason the 16-0 sweep has never been done before, is because the level of competition back in the day was more leveled out. Teams actually competed against each other, rather than playing with the expectation to lose to the best team in the NBA.
3. LeBron James is still the best player in the game
There’s also been a lot of talk about Kevin Durant taking over as the best player in the game. Here’s another thing I never believed. Kevin Durant is a great player, but he’s going to have to take his rightful place as second best. The King still rules. He’s averaging a triple-double through four games of the Finals. No player has ever averaged a triple-double in the Finals. LeBron also passed Magic Johnson, getting a record setting 9 triple-doubles in Finals games. I think it’s safe to say LeBron is still going to be the best player in the NBA for a couple more years. For Durant, it was easy to look like the best player because of the help he was getting from his teammates. Curry has consistently been scoring in the 20-30pt range, Thompson and Green play great defense, and their bench contributes every game. LeBron wasn’t getting that kind of help in the first three games, but he got finally got it in game 4. Durant was the only player on his team to score more than 20 in this game, which leads me into my next point.
4. The Warriors need more than one player to play well
Kevin Durant scored 35 points in this game, once again looking like the best player for the Warriors. The next leading scorer for the Warriors was Draymond Green, who scored 16. Curry had 14 points, while Thompson had just 13. The reason the Warriors were dominating the first three games, is because they got production from multiple players. In game 4, Durant was doing all the work. He got a little taste of how LeBron feels. When the Warriors have multiple players playing at a high level, they’re tough to stop. Same goes for the Cavs. They got production from LeBron (31 points and a triple-double), Kyrie Irving (40 points), and Kevin Love (23 points). So I guess instead of saying the warriors need more than one player to play well, I should say that both teams need more than one player to play well.
5. The Cavs can still make this a competitive series
The Cavs are down 3-1. Sound familiar? They were in this spot a year ago and came back to win the series. The difference this year, is that the Cavs will have to win four games in a row instead of three. Coming back to win the NBA Finals after being down 3-0 has never been done before. Only one time has a team come back to force a game 7. I wouldn’t put a Cavs comeback out of reach just yet, as last years accomplishment had never been done before either. As my roommate has been reminding me this whole series, “Never doubt the King.” The Cavaliers looked great in this game. They played their style of basketball, and it worked. If the Cavaliers can keep that up for three more games, they can win this.