The Golden State Warriors redeemed themselves in Game 4 of the NBA Finals with a 103-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Steve Kerr tweaked his starting lineup, going small-ball by adding Andre Iguodala in favor of Andrew Bogut. Iguodala responded well as he joined the rest of the starters. Not only did he shadow LeBron James on defense very well, he also found his range on offense, scoring 22 points for his team.
Kerr’s small-ball strategy was not without its drawbacks. Timofey Mozgov was lord and commander of the paint, finishing with an impressive double-double, a game-high 28 points as well as 10 rebounds. Tristan Thompson also stepped up with a double-double of his own, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 boards. At the end of the day, Kerr’s gambit paid off. Cleveland’s guards were effectively rubbed out of the equation and unable to provide ample support for the visibly fatigued LeBron James. Kerr effectively said, “Go ahead, bforeat us in the paint, but as long as we nullify James and the rest of the backcourt, we can beat you from long range.” That’s exactly what happened. Iguodala and Stephen Curry combined for eight of Golden State’s total 12 shots from three-point range. Cleveland, on the other hand, was a dismal 4-of-27 from deep. J.R. Smith all eight of his attempts from beyond the arc and finished with an atrocious 2-of-12 from the field overall. Matthew Dellavedova, who was widely heralded as LeBron’s all-important sidekick in games 2 and 3, had a quiet night with 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
To add injury to insult, LeBron suffered a gash on his head as he crashed into a cameraman under the rim. He did not need stitches during the game and the injury did not appear to hamper him a lot. As mentioned, it was mainly fatigue that was the most visible impairment that was slowing him down. On the bright side, James will get a couple of days of rest before he and the rest of the Cavs head to Golden State for Game 5.
Game 5 will be crucial for both teams, with the NBA Finals series now effectively boiling down to a best-of-three, whichever team grabs the upper hand will have a huge advantage moving forward. Steve Kerr made his adjustments in Game 4, which landed his team a win. Now it is David Blatt’s turn to make the next move that will propel his team to an advantageous position.