NBA Finals: Warriors Handle Cavaliers, Tie Series at Two

By Vincent Frank

How’s that for an answer?

With everything seemingly trending the Cleveland Cavaliers way heading into Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors responded in a big way on Thursday night.

Sparked by a lineup change that saw Andre Iguodala start his first game of the season for Andrew Bogut, the Warriors came back from an early first quarter deficit to dominate the pace of the game in a 103-82 victory over the Cavaliers on the road. 

It wasn’t necessarily the cleanest of games for Steve Kerr’s Warriors, but they did enough to even the series heading back to Oakland. As the unsung hero in Game 4, Iguodala scored 22 points and nabbed eight rebounds. Despite another slow start, Stephen Curry also scored 22 on 8-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from the three-point line.

In reality, it was Kerr’s bold move to bench Bogut that made the biggest difference here. Playing at a pace the team had been comfortable with all season long, the Warriors pushed the ball down the court throughout the evening. It was a return to form for a squad that had pretty much lost the tempo battle through the first three games of the series. All said, Bogut ended up playing a total of three minutes.

Draymond Green also returned to prior form, going for 17 points, seven boards and six assists in a big-time performance for the All NBA Defensive First-Team performer. Harrison Barnes also added 14 points and eight rebounds after failing to make a field goal in Game 3.

With this lineup change came a major disadvantage, as Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov scored a team-high 28 points and nabbed 10 boards. Though, the Warriors bold plan paid dividends with Iguodala going up against LeBron James, who scored just 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting. Cleveland’s starting backcourt of Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova scored a combined 15 points on 5-of-23 from the field. These two stats were the major difference in the game.

While the final score indicates that Golden State dominated throughout the game, Cleveland pulled it to within three points late in the third quarter before Curry nailed one of his trademark step-back three-pointers to give the Warriors a six-point lead. They would then open the fourth with a 9-2 run to create some separation. The rest was history, as the Western Conference champs outscored their Eastern Conference counterparts 27-12 in the final stanza.

Outside of losing the tempo battle, Cleveland shot just 4-of-27 from three-point range and allowed the Warriors to shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc. That’s a difference of 24 points in a game that ended with the Warriors up 21.

With the series now knotted at two, the Warriors have re-gained home-court advantage. If they win the final two games in Oakland (47-4 this season), they will earn the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years.

Photo: USA Today Sports