3rd Quarter: A Quick 6-0 Run Has the Warriors Rolling
Cleveland couldn’t score on the opening possession of the second half and then after the Cavaliers twice kept Golden State’s offensive possession going with fouls, Klay Thompson hit a floater in the paint for his first two points of the game.
A steal from Draymond Green led to the versatile big man being fouled to prevent an easy dunk, but that didn’t matter as Stephen Curry hit a long 2-pointer to push the Warriors’ lead to 13 points and then it pushed to 15 when a Curry miss turned into an improbably put-back by JaVale McGee who fought for the ball inside with Tristan Thompson.
The 6-0 run to start the quarter forced Ty Lue to call a timeout. The Cavs came out of halftime looking terrible on both ends while piling up three fouls in less than two minutes on the court.
Marc Stein: After an acrobatic tip-in, dare we ask: Are we sure JaVale McGee isn’t in the Finals M.V.P. race? A more serious question: Have the Third Quarter Warriors arrived? With the Warriors’ lead up to 15, Cleveland has already reached a critical juncture in this second half in terms of extending its season.
Halftime Reading: Kyrie Irving Still Doesn’t Know if the Earth is Round or Flat
New York Times culture reporter Sopan Deb interviewed Kyrie Irving about his new movie “Uncle Drew,” and the Boston Celtics guard (and former Cleveland Cavalier) continued to talk in circles about his previous statements regarding Earth being flat. “Can you openly admit that you know the Earth is constitutionally round?,” Irving asked Deb. “Like, you know that for sure? Like, I don’t know. I was never trying to convince anyone that the world is flat. I’m not being an advocate for the world being completely flat. No, I don’t know. I really don’t. It’s fun to think about though.” You can read Sopan’s interview with Kyrie here.
Halftime: Curry Stays Hot, and the Warriors Lead, 61-52
Stephen Curry is making up for his awful Game 3 in a huge way. He hit a deep 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in the first half to stretch Golden State’s lead to nine points and he has his team in great position to secure the first sweep in the N.B.A. finals since 2007.
It was a series of runs for both teams in the first half, with solid adjustments from both coaches pushing their teams in spurts only to fall back a bit. Golden State’s hot start from 3-point range largely faded, but with Cleveland still struggling from the field (39.1 percent) the Warriors were able to maintain their lead by just taking what was given to them on offense and playing hard on defense, with big contributions from JaVale McGee, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.
Curry leads all scorers with 20 points, and is 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and LeBron James is leading the Cavaliers with 16 points and five assists.
The biggest knock on Golden State has been Klay Thompson’s foul trouble, which has led to several possessions in which Curry has ended up having to guard James, but with the Warriors just about to enter their favorite quarter, a nine-point lead is a huge advantage.
Marc Stein: Golden State raised many eyebrows by keeping so many centers on its playoff roster, but you don’t hear much of that noise any more. Not with a 3-0 series lead and not with JaVale McGee having such a consistent impact for the Warriors against Cleveland. (And, no, I never expected to type such a sentence.)
“It felt like a JaVale series — which was the case with our opening-round matchup with San Antonio but not so much with New Orleans and Houston,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said before the game. “It’s just a feel for personnel and how we’re going to be guarded.”
McGee was +17 in the first half in 11 minutes. He leads the Warriors in that category in the first half.
2nd Quarter: Iguodala and Curry Keep Warriors in the Lead
Jordan Bell scored twice inside and Draymond Green played some terrific defense, but after Stephen Curry couldn’t get a shot off before the shot-clock expired, Andre Iguodala got the ball back with a savvy defensive play in which he exaggerated contact with LeBron James. He then hit a 3-pointer on the other end, showing the full skill set that the team was so clearly missing in the Western Conference finals.
A Curry layup was answered by a J.R. Smtih 3-pointer, and then after a Curry miss, an Iguodala foul off the ball gave James a pair of free-throws, one of which he made.
Stephen Curry hit a contested 3-pointer from deep, and even though Cleveland is repeatedly getting to the line, they are falling behind again, down five with 2:50 to play in the half.
2nd Quarter: Cavs Take the Lead
Jeff Green started the second quarter with a 3-pointer and after a miss by Stephen Curry, the Cavs got a great hustle play from Larry Nance who followed LeBron James to the hoop and picked up James’s missed layup for an easy basket.
Draymond Green scored easily inside but after wasted possessions by both teams, James powered his way to the basket through Curry and not only made the short shot but got a free-throw courtesy of a David West foul.
West made up for the foul on the other end with a nice left-handed put-in off an assist from Curry but a few possessions later Nance blew past the entire Warriors defense from a big dunk.
Golden State’s shooters had gone largely cold and Cleveland had continued to press inside, narrowing the deficit to three. Then they took over with two free-throws by Kyle Korver — courtesy of Klay Thompson’s third foul — and a big dunk from LeBron James. The 14-4 run to start the second has given them a one-point lead, and Cleveland took a timeout to see if they can further capitalize on this momentum.
Marc Stein: The Cavs have fallen into a double-digit deficit twice — but they’re not going away. Cleveland got back into this game by suddenly rotating to open shooters with some real intent. The Warriors’ clean looks are dwindling. For such a “boring” series, doesn’t the score always seem close?
End of 1st Quarter: Warriors Keeping Cavs at Arms Length
The Cavaliers once again got the game within four points thanks to some hustle plays from LeBron James and J.R. Smith and another 3-pointer from Kevin Love.
With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green sitting down for a rest at that point, and with Klay Thompson already on the bench with foul trouble, the hopes of a Cleveland run took a bit of a hit when Nick Young, perhaps Golden State’s worst player in these finals, hit a wide-open 3-pointer. A midrange jumper by Kevin Durant, some terrific defense by Shaun Livingston and another 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala and Golden State’s lead was back to 11.
In the final minute of the quarter, there was a flurry of activity on both ends, but the only score came on a tough layup from LeBron James, which left Cleveland down nine going into the second.
Cleveland didn’t let a few big runs from Golden State push them completely out of the game, but with the Warriors’ shooters appearing to have cured their woes, the early-going of this game heavily favors the series ending tonight. For that to not happen, James is going to need to show way more offense and he needs to do it quickly.
Marc Stein: The Warriors have won five consecutive playoff games despite falling short of their well-chronicled nightly goal of completing 300 passes. We won’t have the full passing picture until after the game, but they are surely on pace to get back into the 300s tonight given how crisply the ball is moving. Golden State had seven assists on 13 made baskets in the opening quarter. Six 3s for the visitors hasn’t hurt, either.
1st Quarter: Warriors Find Stroke From 3-Point Range
After the timeout, Andre Iguodala got the Warriors going again with a wide-open corner 3-pointer. Golden State then got 3-pointers from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green as well, taking advantage of any open shots they can find (Curry created his himself by just stopping in transition to shoot) and when a Kevin Durant dunk pushed the Warriors’ lead back to 24-13, Tyronn Lue again called a timeout.
Considering Golden State’s poor shooting in Game 3, they were no lock to focus on the deep ball in Game 4, but they appear to have retained their confidence in their shooters. And if Cleveland is going to leave Iguodala and Green open all game, those veterans will take advantage of the situation.
1st Quarter: Cavs Get Back Into the Game
Another block from Kevin Durant helped set the defensive tone and then Stephen Curry hit a ridiculous circus 3-pointer in which he seemed to be looking for contact more than he was looking for a basket (but he got the basket anyway). Tristan Thompson broke the Cavs’ scoring drought with a tip-in, and after Klay Thompson picked up his second foul of the game with a charge on J.R. Smith, the Warriors brought in Andre Iguodala.
A one-shot technical for Kevin Love courtesy of a defensive 3-second violation got the Cavs to six points and then LeBron James floated a short jumper over JaVale McGee for his first points of the game. A 3-pointer by Kevin Love had brought the Cavs all the way back to a two-point deficit and that forced Steve Kerr to call a timeout to try to figure out where his team’s hot start went.
1st Quarter: Warriors Off to a Fast Start
Kevin Durant is off to another good start, sinking an 11-footer on one end and blocking a shot on the other. Some solid work inside by JaVale McGee and Stephen Curry helped get Golden State off to a 10-3 lead, which forced Tyronn Lue to call a timeout to get the Cavs reset. In last year’s Game 4, the Cavs rode an explosive first quarter to a dominant win, but thus far they have looked tentative on offense and J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer is their only make of the game.
Marc Stein: Six easy points for Stephen Curry early — two layups, two free throws — has to help him shake off thoughts of that 3-for-16 nightmare in Game 3. The Cavaliers frankly look short on juice early. Not promising omens for the home fans.
1st Quarter: J.R. Smith Hits an Early 3-Pointer
After winning the tip, the Warriors went into a half-court offense and, following a miss by JaVale McGee, they took an early two-point lead with a put-back from Stephen Curry. Misses by both teams set up an open 3-pointer for J.R. Smith and he found the net in what the Cavs have to be hoping is a big game for the struggling shooting guard.
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