Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 9:33 AM
THE NBA FINALS UPDATE - "THE KING" LOSES HIS COOL AND GAME 4 TOO AS WARRIORS NOW JUST ONE "W" AWAY FROM THEIR SECOND STRAIGHT CROWN
Well, there are a well-documented 52 years' worth of pro sports curses festering in Cleveland - yes, see 1964 and the Cleveland Browns for the last time this city won a title of any kind - and that dreaded topic really figures to hit home hard and haunt the Cavaliers sometime in the next few days now that they are down three games-to-one and heading back to Oakland for Monday night's possible balloons-and-confetti game for the Warriors.
If you wanted some answers as to why the 2.5-point home favorite Cavaliers couldn't knot up this best-of-seven NBA Finals series on Friday night than look at the following three factors (among others):
First off, Golden State connected on a whopping - and NBA Finals-record - 17 trifectas with the tag-team tandem of Stephen Curry (game-high 38 points) and backcourt mate Klay Thompson (25 points) flinging in a combined 11 triples overall in the 108-97 triumph in Game 4 as an array of defensive "breakdowns" really hurt the Cavaliers;
Secondly, no ifs/ands or buts about it, Cleveland mega-star LeBron James was way too passive for much of the night despite the I'll-fool-you stat line of 25 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists. Heck, as we stated in our Jim Sez headline in today's column, "The King" lost his cool with a couple of late-game incidents involving Golden State's mouth-piece Draymond Green and the above-mentioned Curry and where was all that passion, fury and fire when the Cavs needed to respond to Golden State's 58-42 second half? And why doesn't James take it hard to the hoop when he's got the smaller Curry guarding 'em? Hmmm.
Finally, don't ever let anyone tell you the "little things" can't beats you ... check out the fact Cleveland missed 11 free throws (shooting 15-of-26 from the foul line) and you saw the body language after a few times when Cavalier players missed two FTs in a row plus those seven turnovers by James were absolute killers - heck, even decked out in his lime-green suit afterwards the four-time league MVP admitted that some of his turnovers were "careless" and it clearly bothered 'em.
Good, it should.
When the Cavs needed the "little things" to fall into place in their favor in Game 4, instead they clanked free throws off the rim and committed ill-timed turnovers that helped to ruin the night.
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NBA FINALS - Game 4: GOLDEN STATE 108, CLEVELAND 97 - Warriors lead series 3-1
Okay, so Game 4 was a "must-win" for Cleveland and Tyronn Lue's club didn't get mission accomplished ... was it at all Lue's fault?
Well, plenty of folks are claiming the Cavs' stars ran out of gas early in the fourth quarter when things started slipping away from them - at one stage Cleveland went seven straight possessions without scoring all the while getting pounded on the boards (especially on the offensive glass) - and perhaps 46 minutes for James, 43 minutes for Kyrie Irving (team-best 34 points) and 43 minutes for two-guard J.R. Smith (just 10 points on 3-of-10 FG shooting) was too much but what are you gonna do when the other team is naturally 10-deep and you're not?
Go back and check out the Game 3 minutes when Cleveland crushed G-State by 30 points - James, Irving and Smith were on the floor for too many minutes there as well!
Meanwhile, hats off to Curry for answering the post-Game 3 critics - that whole "soft" moniker is a joke anyway 'cause the two-time MVP is never afraid to go hard to the basket - and kudos to that Golden State bench starring Andre Iguodala (10 points, 7 assists and 6 boards) and Shaun Livingston (8 points but some really great "D") because they supplied some big minutes for Steve Kerr's club ... again.
Quickie Note: NBA Finals teams with three games-to-one series leads are a composite 32-0 all-time.
Pointspread Notes - The Warriors now have covered two-of-three games in this post-season when placed in the underdog role while the Cavaliers saw their seven-game ATS (against the spread) home streak snapped in Game 4. Remember the only other home gave that Cleveland didn't cover in these playoffs was Game 1 of the opening round (see Cleveland 106, Detroit 101 with the Cavs 11.5-point betting favorites back then). Meanwhile, it's rather amazing that the Warriors have covered two-thirds of their playoff games when you consider the odds, the pressure they've been under to "prove" that the 73-win season wasn't a fluke and the fact they played a handful of games without Curry early on in this post-season.
So, the series could be over and done-with come Monday night and we remind you that Golden State is an electric 10-2 versus the vig in all playoff home games this spring while Cleveland is a rotten 3-6 against the odds away this post-season.
NOTE: We'll have a Jim Sez Game 5 NBA Finals preview in the next column plus MLB Notes too.