Cleveland Cavaliers 120 - 129 Golden State Warriors: Game recap
Golden State took the best-of-seven series 4-1, reclaiming the throne they lost to the Cavaliers a year ago. The Warriors completed a 16-1 playoff run, the best post-season win percentage in NBA history.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Golden State Warriors: live stream online build-up
Cleveland Cavaliers - Golden State Warriors: preview
In a series that looked done and dusted, the Cavaliers came back from the dead and trounced the Golden State Warriors for their first win in the series. As it stands, the Warriors still need just one game to end it and claim their second NBA Finals victory in three years and reclaim their crown as the cream of the NBA crop as they travel back to California and lay in wait for the Cavaliers.
The Warriors famously fluffed their chances last year when they allowed the Cavaliers come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win 4-3 in the best of seven showdown. The Warriors were not as good then as they are now but there have to be at least a couple of doubts creeping into Warriors' minds given the trauma they suffered last year when they became the laughing stock of the league and American sports in general after their collapse.
LeBron James hit a triple doube in Game 4 but it was Kyrie Irving and his 40 points that helped the Cavs over the line. We have come to accept LeBron's 31-point 10 rebound, 11 assist night as normal. They just needed help from one of their other big guns with Irving's name being thrown around as the possible fly in the Warriors ointment.
He exploded on Friday night and said after the game that a Draymond Green quote was what got the Cavaliers fired up for the game.
Green said, "You know, we obviously won it here [in Cleveland] before. It's a great feeling, winning on somebody else's floor, celebrating on their floor, celebrating in their locker room, quieting their crowd. As an athlete, one of the best feelings is going into enemy territory and just silencing their crowd. So it'll be a great feeling."
Irving said the "chatter" coming from the Warriors' corner was what helped the team to focus and take Game 4, "You give us a day in between, and we were ready to come out. Especially me, because that taste wouldn't have been the same if we would have lost tonight and they would have celebrated on our home floor. So I'll just leave that at that."
Many people suggested that the Cav had to be spectacular while the Warriors just needed to be themselves. They scored 137 points on Friday, which is the most points in an NBA Finals game in 30 years. Can they do that again in a game on the road? They're going to have to if they have any hope of keeping this series alive.
Golden State Warriors
We no longer have the chance to see the Warriors sweep through the entire playoffs. They were the first team to win their opening 15 postseason games and must now reboot after a long weekend as they make their way out west in an effort to put this series to bed before murmurs of a Cleveland comeback start to get so loud that they threaten to drown out the noise the Warriors have been making on the court.
In order to do that, the Warriors are going to have to do something they never did in the playoffs this far this year; rebound after a loss. They played 41 games at home in the regular season and lost just five game at the Oracle Arena all season.
Kevin Durant is still the hot favourite to win the series MVP award but he needs help and he needs to continue to offer everything he has on both sides of the ball.
Steph Curry had just 14 points on Friday night, a postseason low this year. He has only failed to score 20 or less in one other game. That was against the Trail Blazers when he hit 19 in Game 2 of the first round.
The Warriors probably won't be upstaged again to the degree we saw on Friday night but they need a more complete performance on Monday and if they can't figure out a way to beat the Cavs, it might be a case of their opponents figuring out, finally, how to beat them. We won't hold our breath on that though.