NBA Finals: G4 - Cleveland's Resurrection
Hold your brooms folks – the Cavs are not done just yet.
After a heart-wrenching Game 3 loss, Cleveland bounced back in a big way Friday night, smashing all kinds of NBA Finals records on their way to a 137-116 victory. Now, they find themselves in familiar territory; down 3-1 with the series heading back to Oracle Arena.
Simply put, everything went right for the Cavs in this one. LeBron broke Magic Johnson’s record with his ninth career triple-double in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving dropped 40, Kevin Love shot 6-8 from distance, and J.R. Smith hit a DEEP shot from just beyond the half-court logo as the shot clock expired late in the second quarter.
And those are just a few of Cleveland’s highlights. Their laundry list of offensive accomplishments include: most points in a single quarter in NBA Finals history (49), most points in a half in Finals history (86), most points in a game in Finals history (137) and most threes made in a Finals game (24).
After Kevin Durant hit that dagger at the end of Game 3, most of the mainstream media decided this series was over. There was no possible way Cleveland could come back from such a deflating loss, let alone one that put them in a 3-0 hole.
Of the 126 teams in NBA history that have gone down 3-0 in a series, none have come back to win it all. But this is the Cavs, guys! Don’t we all remember when they became the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win just last year?
It seems as though the Warriors found comfort in the stat about those 126 fallen teams – they shouldn’t. Golden State came out lethargic and sloppy on defense in the first quarter and spotted Cleveland a huge lead early that they would never relinquish. The Cavs eviscerated the Warriors early in the paint and managed to shoot 22 free throws in the first quarter alone.
Durant kept the Dubs afloat with 35 points, but the Splash Brothers combined for only 27 on 8-24 shooting.
LeBron told the media after Game 3 that to beat the Warriors, the whole team must play A++ basketball, while hoping Golden State has an off game. That is exactly what happened in this one. The Cavs were the best version of themselves and made that winning formula possible, and under that pressure, they finally showed why this series was so highly touted in the first place.
With this victory, Cleveland proves that they are at their best when their backs are against the wall. They turn into some sort of crazed pack of animals, hunting for victory like their life depends on it.
Golden State needs to counter with their own sense of inspired urgency in Game 5. They played phenomenal basketball for the first 144 minutes of the NBA Finals, but once the media anointed them King of the Next Decade, they took their foot off the gas pedal and thought cruise control would be enough.
The Cavaliers' triumph is good for the NBA, regardless of what happens next. Even if the Warriors finish them off on Monday night, this win snaps a previously unbeaten postseason for Golden State and proves they are not invincible.
If Cleveland can string together a few more performances like this one, this could end up being the greatest NBA comeback of all time.