The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first game of the 2017 NBA Finals in Game 4, beating the Golden State Warriors 137-116. Golden State holds a 3-1 series lead. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 40 points and seven assists. LeBron James added NBA-record ninth career triple-double in the Finals with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. The Cavaliers set an NBA Finals record with 24 made three-pointers.
Kevin Durant had a team-high 35 points for the Warriors.
- Alfonso De Falco: @FonzyDeFalco
- Sean Linhares: @Linhares_Sean
- Felix John-Baptiste: @Twosmooth2
1. Have the Cavaliers turned the tide of this series with that historic performance?
De Falco: The Cavaliers lived and died by the three in Game 4 and the pressure is on for them to continue that trend for three more games. It might have turned the tide but then again Golden State still leads three games to one and no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficient….wait…I’ve seen this before..
Linhares: No. Game 4 was probably Cleveland’s best performance this season, but it would be a wild stretch to say that they can now come back and win the next three games fueled off it. This series will (probably) end in Game 5, but I will say that you have to leave some wiggle room because of how great LeBron is. I refuse to shut the door on any possibility of the Cavs coming back, but if they do, it likely won’t be because of their Game 4 performance.
John-Baptiste: I wouldn’t necessarily say turned the tide. However, I do think Game 4 was a confidence booster for them. I was telling a buddy of mine earlier in the day that they’ve seen Golden State’s best punch in Game 3 with huge performances from Steph, KD and Klay. The Warriors hadn’t seen the Cavs best punch with everyone clicking as they did in the regular season and in the previous rounds of the postseason. Granted Game 4 was historic from a stats perspective, but the Cavs can play somewhat to that level consistently.
2. How much pressure is on Golden State now to close in Game 5?
De Falco: I think there would be more pressure in Game 6 for Golden State to close out the series considering the big lead that the Warriors have had outside of Game 4. Not saying that they should have their foot off the gas in Game 5, but the pressure is on if the series continues after Monday
Linhares: A ton. This is a team that has constantly been forced to listen to 3-1 memes for the last year. It’s still going strong! Now up 3-1 again, I don’t think this team wants any part of a Game 6. After all, choking in that spot has to stick in the back of their minds, right? If it’s a tight game late in Game 5, it’s not completely unreasonable to say the Dubs might tense up.
John-Baptiste: There’s huge pressure for Golden State to close this thing out in 5. We all heard the 3-1 jokes, but more importantly, do they really want to go BACK to Cleveland for a Game 6? I mean I know they’re confident wherever they play, but I doubt they want to even give the Cavaliers that kind of life. Pressure mounts exponentially with each game this series gets extended.
3. Considering what it took for the Cavs to win Game 4, is going that ballistic simply the only way for them to beat the Warriors?
De Falco: If the strategy worked the first time in dominating fashion, why not stick with it a second time. LeBron James is still one of the top players in the league and will be on his game in Game 5. If guys like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith continue to light it up for three, Golden State should start worrying.
Linhares: Pretty much, yeah. I think at this point, it’s fairly obvious this Cleveland team lacks the consistent firepower to keep up with Golden State. As great as LeBron is, the Kyrie-Love-JR-Shump nucleus around him has failed to show up for much of this series. JR and Shump, with the exception of Game 4 for JR, have both been pretty terrible all series long. At this point, you have to hope JR and Kyrie can keep their hot hands going for three more games.
John-Baptiste: I’m not sure they have to go ballistic to beat them. But if they can hit open 3’s to keep Golden State’s defense honest, it opens the lane for LeBron to continue attacking. That bodes well for them.
4. Out of Golden State’s big four, who needs to have a big outing in Game 5 for the Warriors to close out?
De Falco: I am going with Klay Thompson in this one. Thompson only had 13 points on 4-11 (4-10 from three) shooting. Often overlooked by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, Thompson has the potential to light it up at any time.
Linhares: I want to see Steph go out there and close it out. he was the guy that caught the most flack for last season’s collapse and deservedly so. Seeing him redeem himself after the behind-the-back pass that wasn’t and getting the clamps put on him by Kevin Love in last year’s Game 7 would be a nice story to finish the season.
John-Baptiste: Steph Curry. I’ve said for the past couple years that he’s the engine of the team. Even now that KD has joined and has assumed the position of best on the team, they still go as Steph goes. When he’s hot, they’re pretty unbeatable.
5. Did Game 4 officially put to rest the claims that Golden State is just too prolific for Cleveland to hang with?
De Falco: Do not get me wrong, Golden State is a powerful team and what they have done so far is historic. Say they win Game 5, they’ll be one of three one-loss playoff teams (the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers are the two right now.) Now if Cleveland wins Game 5, I think we can start going in the direction that Golden State is too prolific.
Linhares: No. Golden State is still the far better team and quite simply, probably the best team of all time. Even for them, LeBron is at a level where it’s almost impossible to beat him four consecutive times, especially in a Playoff series. I really don’t see a way for Cleveland to hang in and force another couple games here.
John-Baptiste: No. It doesn’t put the claim to rest at all. Golden State still has the most firepower I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. But I’ve said since July last year that although they added KD, the formula to beat them remained the same. Execution is what counts now.