NBA Finals Game 4 Promises Another Test for Golden State
By Burt Carey
As advertised, the NBA Finals have come down to a contest between two celebrated players. LeBron James has been here before. The NBA Finals, that is. For Stephen Curry, the current NBA Most Valuable Player, it’s his first time.
James, 30, returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the 2014-2015 season and quickly established the team’s goal: a championship. With two
NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, two NBA Finals MVP awards and 11 times an NBA All-Star, he has street cred to call for such a thing.
Just three years younger, Curry is one of the game’s purest shooters, but he – with just two All-Star appearances — and his Golden State Warrior teammates combined don’t have career stats like those of LeBron James.
It was James, sinking a long three-pointer with 1:40 left in Game 3, then motioning as if holstering a pistol at his hip. Then it was Curry, knocking down 17 points – 12 of them from three-point shots – in the second half. But in the end, James’ experience paid off. He stole an in-bound pass with 51 seconds left on the clock, then pointed to his temple, as if to say, “I’m always thinking out here.” Cleveland was up 88-83. The Warriors looked spent.
Game 3 went to the Cavs 96-91, giving Cleveland a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Following two overtime games in Oakland, the series tied at a game apiece, and the NBA rather red-faced over referee mistakes at the end of Game 2, it’s still anyone’s title for the taking. Even Tuesday’s win for the Cavs means little at this point. The real momentum turns on Game 4 Thursday night in Cleveland.
A win for Cleveland puts the Cavs within a win of the title. A win by Golden State ties the series with critical Game 5 played back in Oakland.
The Cavaliers had to retool following the season-ending knee injury to point guard Kyrie Irving. They employed a tenacious defense in Game 2 that seemed to rattle Curry, whose normally off-the-charts shooting fell to an abysmal 5-for-23. He didn’t do any better in the first half of Game 3, shooting 1-for-6, and the Warriors found themselves playing catch-up all night.
James was stellar. His 40 points were huge, but even bigger was shooting guard Matthew Dellavedova, whose 20 points were overshadowed by his surprisingly scrappy play. Delly, as Cavs fans know him, had a big night. For his part, Curry scored 27 for the Warriors, and could be seen on several occasions shaking his head in disbelief.
Will Golden State have an answer for Cleveland’s strong defense that has stymied their leading scorer? Or will James assume his familiar role atop the NBA? We’ll find out Thursday. Game 4 is set for 9 p.m. Eastern with television coverage on ABC.