The Cleveland Cavaliers have managed stave off the inevitable by defeating Golden State 137 – 116, forcing a Game 5 in the NBA Finals on Monday and handing the Warriors their first postseason loss. While it’s not exactly a de ja vu situation on some Teena Marie stuff, the win pushes the series into familiar territory for both teams. It was just last year that the Cavs came back from the same deficit to win the 2016 NBA Finals.
However, the circumstances between this year and last year are greatly contrasted. Not only are there no injury problems to hang excuses on, but the Warriors now sport two NBA MVPs that are under 30 years old. But Golden State may have needed three MVPs to overcome the incredible dribbling wizardry and fantastic floaters of Kyrie Irving and yet another triple double by LeBron James. Kevin Love chipped in with 23 points.
From the very beginning, it was apparent that the Cavs were not interested in being in anybody’s post-Finals banana boat vacation photos anytime soon as they scrapped, clawed and pawed their way to an 18 point lead in the first half. The halftime score was an astronomical, AAU ish 86 – 68. Hollywood K, aka Kyrie Irving, was swerving and slicing like he was on rollerblades.
The same defenders that gave Kyrie issues in the first two games seem woefully ineffective in the last two. Klay Thompson’s defensive efforts were praised during the first two games of the series, but now appear inconsequential to stem the fiery Jersey flavor of Irving as he sprinted out to score 27 points in the first half.
Though each game has its own unique bone structure, an unfortunate portion of Game 4’s DNA was contaminated by what appeared to be total ineptitude by the refs. Inconsistent foul calls, quick technical fouls and even an unprecedented incident that saw a technical foul that was recorded in the book as being accessed to Draymond Green in the first half was rescinded in the second half and given to head coach Steve Kerr when Green was given another “T” for being demonstrative after a foul call.
News flash! Draymond Green is demonstrative about everything.
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JR Smith turned in another effective performance with 15 points for the Cavs. Meanwhile, Steph Curry turned in an inexplicably poor shooting performance. He shot 4-for-13, and his 2-for-9 from beyond the arc was putrid like a Lollapalooza port-a-potty. Steph finished with 14 points and 10 assists. Though Kevin Durant notched 35 points and Draymond Green chipped in with 16 points and 14 rebounds, the Warriors didn’t get any significant production from anyone else.
Kyrie finished with 40 points while shooting 75 percent from behind the line and King James recorded 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Power forward/Center Tristan Thompson’s NBA Finals performance had been so mysteriously bad that superstitious misogynists jokingly blamed it on his girlfriend, professional famous person Khloe Kardassian. Prior to Game 4, Thompson recorded a total of eight points and 11 rebounds through three games. Considering he averaged nearly a double-double in the regular season, it did seem like someone placed a ju-ju on his game.
I guess that’s why Cleveland commentators were cheering when he recorded his first 10 rebound game of the Finals. I was looking at my TV sideways like the RCA mascot thinking “Man, he’s a grown ass man! About time!”
As we await Game 5 in the Oracle Arena on Monday, it would be best to remember that the law of averages always rears its head whenever numbers are involved. The Cleveland Cavaliers made 24 three pointers while two of the best three point shooters in the NBA history were a combined 4 of 18 from behind the the arc. The numbers say these two extremes will gravitate back toward the median.
And when operating within the bounds of numerical averages, the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t seem to have much of a chance of winning in Oracle on Monday.