I touched on it before Game 4 and it was finally “witnessed” by all at the fired up Quicken Loans Arena as the Warriors tied their NBA Finals series 2-2 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Once again veterans David Lee and clubhouse leader for the Finals MVP (?) Andre Iguodala provided the necessary spark for Steve Kerr’s men to head back home to Oakland for what’s now become just a three-game series.
A new NBA Champion will now be crowned within a week.
Iguodala produced arguably the most impressive performance of his career on the game’s biggest stage, restricting the scoring output of LeBron James (20/12/8 on 7-22) while also contributing an equal team-high 22 points. His insertion into the starting line up at the expense of Aussie big man Andrew Bogut looked shaky at best as the Cavs got out to an early 7-0 lead but after a quick time out, the Warriors got on track and led 31-24 at the first break.
Strange highlight of the first quarter? Iguodala asking James Jones for some love after Jones blocked his shot out of bounds.
As the game progressed it became more and more apparent that the Warriors had in fact “figured themselves out” late in Game 3 after all. The ball movement was back, there was clear intent offensively, shots were dropping and momentum (albeit for one game at this stage) had swung back in the favor of the Bay Area Bombers.
The Cavaliers, for all of their stellar and quite frankly unlikely performances to date looked fatigued. In the same way Steph Curry had looked “rattled” or “running on empty” in previous games, the likes of Dellavedova, Shumpert and Smith now looked somewhat the same. Smith in particular simply could not connect on a shot, even when the ball was dead.
The lads from Golden State pushed their lead to the magical 15 point mark and didn’t look back, handling the Cavaliers by 21 and securing themselves a brand new three-game series for the Larry O’Brien trophy. With two of those three games being played at Oracle Arena, it gives the Warriors an advantage but also places a load of pressure on them for Game 5.
The back-up plan of a Game 7 at home is nice to have in your pocket but if the Warriors drop the next contest, they’ll be playing to stay alive in Cleveland, as balloons are suspended above them. The Cavaliers, again for all their unlikely stature in this series, will have the opportunity to play for it all, in front of their pumped up and championship-starved faithful.
Have the Warriors turned the corner?
Bring on Game 5.