My dad kept yelling "the law of averages!", expecting the Cleveland Cavaliers to finally start missing from deep. In normal circumstances, he would have a point. Today, however, was anything but normal.
Behind Kyrie Irving's 40 points and LeBron James' finals record ninth triple-double, the Cavaliers destroyed the Golden State Warriors 137-116. The game was very similar to Games 1 and 2 in how one-sided it was. Only difference was that it was the opposite side. Now, the Cavaliers have a glimmer of hope to pull the greatest comeback in sports history.
Warriors Get Taste of Own Medicine
With three of the best shooters in the league in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, the Warriors often overwhelm opponents with their amazing three point shooting. However, Game 4 was a completely different story.
The Cavaliers shot 24-of-45 from deep, breaking the finals record for most threes made in a game. Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith all had great games from three, going 7-of-12, 6-of-8, and 5-of-9, respectively. This was one of those shots. This is a picture of that same shot.
Cleveland was hot throughout the whole game, and the Warriors could do nothing to slow them down. For the Cavaliers to win Game 5, they will need some more of that. Obviously, they're not going to have another record breaking night from deep. However, Irving, Love, and a role player, whether it's Smith or Tristan Thompson, will have to play amazingly once again for the Cavaliers to remain alive.
What was most noteworthy, however, was not how well the Cavaliers shot, but the message they were trying to send. Even when the game was far out of reach, Cleveland continued shooting from deep, looking to bury the Warriors. They wanted to show the Warriors what happens when they are taken lightly. They want to give Golden State reason to panic even with a 3-1 lead. It's unclear if they succeeded in that regard, but it was definitely an impressive showing of determination and resilience.
Is Curry Choking Again?
It's only one game, so nobody should go that far yet. However, it was a little worrisome that he went 4-13 from the field and 2-9 from deep for 14 points. He wasn't looking like his normal self, taking shots with less confidence and not driving the ball as well. However, the difference wasn't the on-ball defense.
The Cavaliers were able to get under Curry's skin by constantly double teaming him off the ball. He could not get open no matter how hard he tried, and as a result he looked much like he did in the 2015 Finals against Matthew Dellavedova's stifling defense: defeated, unconfident, and hesitant.
From now on, that should be the Cavaliers' defensive game plan. It wouldn't work as well on Durant because he is basically a seven footer; he can use his height to destroy a double off the ball. On the other hand, Curry is short and relies on his quickness to get open. With him not getting the ball, the Cavaliers force a recently inconsistent Thompson and an only above average offensive player in Draymond Green to help Durant. As everybody witnessed today, it is quite effective.
While a lot of it goes to the Cavaliers' energy on the defensive end and dedication to containing Curry, he cannot let himself be affected so easily. He has shown time and time again that his whole game worsens significantly if he can't get the shots he wants. This cannot happen again in any subsequent game.
The Warriors must get Curry going early in Game 5. They rely on off-ball screens to get him open, which is a great idea, but easier to defend when Zaza Pachulia and other offensive liabilities are the ones setting the screens. It may be a little unorthodox, but it might be a good idea to get Durant to set a screen. It'll then be impossible to double team Curry and he can regain his confidence.
Bottom line: the Warriors must ensure that Curry plays well in Game 5 for them to end the series before the Cavaliers gain too much momentum.
All Different Kinds of Weird
An overturned ejection. Seven technicals. A fan high-fiving everybody he sees as he gets kicked out the arena. Zaza trying to pull a Draymond 2.0 on Iman Shumpert by punching instead of kicking. Zaza also lowkey staring down James. Zaza being Zaza, period. Ok, that's not anything new, but still weird.
That's not all. Durant and James getting at it soon after the world heard part of their rap collaboration. Check the video below if you want to listen to it. Possibly the beginning of the next Jay Z - Nas beef? Two missed backcourt violations, one on Irving and one on Durant. The Cavaliers crushing the half scoring record by netting 86 points. A puppy monkey baby commercial.
But you know what? As weird as this game was, two moments more than made up for it. First, another amazing play by LeBron James. He just keeps proving that he is superhuman. Second, the premiere of the teaser trailer for Black Panther. Coming soon cannot come soon enough.
Game 5 Details and Other News
Make sure to watch Game 5 on Monday, June 12 at 9 p.m. E.T. on ABC.