The Cavs hit a record number of threes, benefited from dubious officiating ( hitting their foul shots while the Warriors didn't) and got away with muscling the Warriors to take the fourth game of the NBA Finals.
But nobody was harder on the Warriors effort than Coach Kerr on Sunday, especially on defense. It was acknowledged by everyone that the Cavs were the more aggressive team.
Now the Warriors come home, playing another close-out game on Monday. The fifth game is the most crucial game of any series, as the winner of it almost always wins the series. It is the Warriors best chance to win the championship.
What adjustments do they need to make? Most observers note that they scored well enough to win most games, but in addition to the Cavs super-hot shooting, their defense was inhibited by foul trouble. They lost the first quarter badly but stayed pretty even the rest of the way.
It seems the fatigue factor hit the Warriors more, against the desperation energy of the Cavs, which continued by playing ahead and in some sort of zone. Now the energy edge should go back to the Warriors at home.
One observer suggested that Steph Curry didn't have the ball in his hands enough as playmaker, and given the Cavs muscling him off the ball, it threw him off his rhythm. So running the offense through Curry more seems like a good idea.
What is there to worry about? Defending threes but not giving up layups as a consequence. I'm not sure I liked Steph's statement after the fourth game that the first six minutes are crucial, and without them it takes a near miracle to win. It forecasts the strategy, and if the Dubs don't have a great first six minutes then the doubts creep in?
Draymond has been a little too vocal between games for my tastes. Everyone knows the Cavs love to bait him, and he seems to be cooperating. He needs to play a cool game for the first three quarters, and take over the fourth defensively if necessary.
The Cavs opened the fourth game with desperate energy and got the breaks they needed--they got calls, the Warriors were a step behind, and they hit shots at a phenomenal rate. They fed off that overwhelming start, and even though the Warriors had gotten back within 7 points in the second quarter, the Cavs kept hitting key shots while the Dubs did not, to keep the Cavs at a safe distance. It's hard to see this happening again.
The Warriors have to play with composure as well as joy, for the Cavs will do their worst to frustrate them and beat them up. However it's hard to believe that the officiating will be as bad either. The Warriors have to be the overwhelming favorite to win the championship tonight.
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, winner of the Stanley Cup NHL championship with a 2-0 win on Sunday in the sixth game. (They won the fifth game 6-0.) The Penguins are the first NHL team since 1998 to win two straight championships.
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