The Cleveland Cavaliers were hit with a devastating blow in Game 4 of the NBA finals. Whether it’d be physically, emotionally, or mentally. Truthfully, all three of the seven dimensions of wellness (emotional, mental, physical are components of wellness), have laid a haymaker to the Cavaliers respectively.
First off, you are maintaining a 2-1 series lead at home in front of your crowd at Quicken Loans Arena and you surrender a game 4 victory to the Warriors. A game which you shouldn’t have lost. You win two consecutive games against Golden State prior, one of which you steal on the road in Oracle Arena. It was truly demoralizing for Cleveland, as they once led 7-0, running out of the gate in the first minute of the game. But, what has plagued Cleveland all season long, just kept aggravating them throughout the game, was their bench production. And it continued to sting them in this pivotal game 4.
Their role players in the series were so influential in the previous match-ups. They just did not show up and when they were needed most. J.R. Smith broke a record for most misses without a make: 0-8. Especially, when you have LeBron in the second quarter with nearly three minutes left have a petrifying dive into one of the cameras underneath the basket. It seemed as if time stopped at that moment, leaving All In Cleveland breathless.
A cut which needed glue for two separate cuts on his head. Now, he was not required to leave the game since the medical staff stopped the bleeding. Now, the Cavaliers impeding decision to keep LeBron on the court was due to the their offensive struggles in the 1st half. LeBron showed signs of pure agony while being treated. Lebron looked very hesitant after his fall into the camera in the 2nd quarter. His body language spoke volumes of his discomfort seconds before he attempted his two free throws. For this strategic move, it would look as if they were sure to take a commanding 3-1. But when you have LeBron exhaust 41 minutes, who has already logged the most minutes in NBA Finals history through the first 3 games. It’s a serious problem when you asked to stay in game, that you are relied on the most and you still lose.
So you’re telling me 41 points per game is not enough? Well, that’s was LeBron’s finals averages before heading to Game 4. It has now dropped to a staggering 35 points per game, still phenomenal. And it’s eerie that those numbers can be losing efforts. Most importantly, it is surely not lasting numbers is the biggest stage of them in the NBA.
The Cavaliers were feeding Timofey Mozgov in the post, relying on him down the stretch in the second half, when you need a basket? Let someone else eat, not Mozgov. That’s just not going to get the job done as a reliable source of offense. Lebron scored just 2 points in the fourth an attempted only 2 shots in the fourth. Mozgov was the Cav’s leading scorer with 28 points. But if you’re Golden State, that’s exactly what you want to do: take the ball out of LeBron’s hand. I’m sure the Warriors will continue double-teaming him when necessary, especially if Dellavedova is ineffective offensively. The Cavs will need to do a much better job spacing the floor to create better offense. Cleveland has scored only 17% without LeBron in the game in the finals.
And will need to find an answer for negating Andre Iguodala and David Lee: Golden State’s special weapons. Lee has given them life, when it really looked bleak offensively. The shots Iguodala has made, they will just have to live with because it’s great defense. But it is not great defense when Golden State is throwing outlet passes to a high-flying Igudola on a fast break with no defender in sight. Cleveland should still feel proud knowing they have limited Steph Curry’s production to only 23 points per game in the finals, 5 points shy of his playoff average at 28 points.
It does not sound too appealing, but they made him truly uncomfortable in every phase possible. Cleveland is forcing him to defend the pick & roll, guard LeBron at times, which is scary, and Steph is having to pass out of a double team more than ever before. Steph is a master of being comfortable while uncomfortable, as he can just make contested shots effortlessly. That would be the case in other series, but not in the Finals. Curry has struggled to say the least. Games 1 & 4 were the only time when Steph looked like himself for majority of the game, and not just spurts.
LeBron can’t even think of having an inadequate game, let alone a mediocre performance. He will need to rise to the occasion and exhibit a monumental showing. If LeBron just dips 10 points under his average, it’s a loss. He’ll need triple double numbers and at least 35 points in order to showcase a victory. With a banged-up supporting cast and sporadic bench, he’ll need just that and more.
So you travel to Golden State now, who has the momentum in a pivotal Game 5, in what is a must-win for either team. For if Golden State wins, they can look to close out the series on the road in Cleveland. On the other hand, if Cleveland wins, it would be home-court advantage. The winner will most likely go on to win Game 6. This series will not last 7, for the Cavaliers look like they are running out of gas. If they refuel by tonight, it’d truly be a sight to see. So, can the Cavs hold Golden State under 100 points, we’ll see for Game 5.