The Cleveland Cavaliers needed an all-time performance to beat the Golden State Warriors and force a Game 5.
USA TODAY Sports
No, really. No one has ever run through the postseason without a blemish and the Golden State Warriors attempt at a 16-0 mark was derailed by a taste of their own medicine – the Cleveland Cavaliers exploding for historic offensive outbursts. With a 49-point first quarter, an 86-point first half, the Cavs coasted to a 137-116 win at Quicken Loans Arena and we’re trudging on through the weekend to a Game 5 in Oakland Monday.
So what did we learn in Game 4?
1. Heart of a champion
The saying goes that you don’t question the heart of a champion and in the crazed rush to place the Warriors in historical context it gets forgotten that the Cavaliers are the reigning champions and they weren’t going to just roll over.
It may have looked like if you read body language in the final moments of Game 3 or listened to the postgame interviews (aside from the mystery tweeter on J.R. Smith’s phone who tweeted out, “Cavs in 7”). But after overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win the title last season against the Warriors, the Cavs at least showed that they were going to make the Warriors fight for it, even if it is just one more night.
“I don’t like it,” James said, eliciting laughter in the interview room. “It causes too much stress, man. I’m stressed out. Keep doing this every year. But listen, at the end of the day we just got some resilient guys. The Warriors have championship DNA, and we do as well. We’re battle tested, they’re battle tested. And getting swept is something that you never want to have happen – especially this point. You get all the way to the Finals, you hate to get swept, lose two games on your home floor. So I think a lot of guys had that in their mind today, and they came out and played like it.”
2. What could go wrong?
It doesn’t take a great memory to see where it went downhill for Golden State last year – the suspension of Draymond Green, the injury to Andrew Bogut, the less than stellar health for Stephen Curry.
So this is why the Warriors wanted to finish this off in four and will be desperate to handle it in five games – the oddly-titled gentleman’s sweep, which isn’t a sweep at all. Draymond Green found himself in the sort of emotional rollercoaster that cost him a game last year. Extend the series and increase the chances that something happens – he’s at four technicals now, still three shy of the suspension trigger.
But injuries happen. Suspensions could come. So the Warriors do not want to be back in Cleveland for a sixth game.
3. Regarding conspiracies
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The referees bungled the handling of the technical foul that was believed to be handed to Draymond Green, but in retrospect turned out to be on Steve Kerr. Mike Callahan admitted that in an interview with pool reporter Brian Mahoney from the Associated Press. This came into play when Green was called for a tech later in the game that everyone believed resulted in an ejection.
But if the NBA was conspiring to halt the Warriors sweep, wouldn’t the league have Green thrown out – not save him from being thrown out? Anyway, if you were confused, so were the principals.
“I thought they called it on Draymond,” Kerr said. “I thought I deserved it. But I thought I heard the announcer say, the PA announcer say that it was on Draymond. So then I thought the second one Draymond was going to get kicked out, but they explained that the first one was on me.”
Green told reporters after the game that he was at least going to be able to play in Game 5 – adding, “Hopefully.” But he also said he’s not changing the way he plays
“Ain’t no tech going to stop me from being me,” he said. “At least if I’m going to get them, I think I should like, let me earn them. Let me get my money’s worth if I’m going to get some techs. But hey, it’s the day and age we live in.”
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