It’s not time to pop the champagne quite yet.
But we’re about as close as you can get after the Warriors took Game 4 from the Cavaliers on their home court. And “took” is the right word; after looking lost and lackadaisical in Game 3, the W’s played with a sense of urgency that was heartening to behold. Even so they were down 5 points at the end of the first half, 6 at the beginning of the second after Kyrie Irving converted the free throw for a technical that had been called on Luke Walton.
At the end of the 1st Luke had protested, quite correctly, over an an atrocious non-call on Andre Iguodala’s buzzer-beating heave. J.R. Smith had slapped Iguodala all over the arms on the shot, and even raised his hand to claim the foul, but no call was made. This was part of a pattern of mystifying officiating throughout the game, and while I think it pretty much evened out in the end, it was painful to experience.
Fortunately, after Irving hit a jump shot for an 8-point lead, the Warriors decided it was time to bear down. Back-to-back 25-footers by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson made it a 2-point game, and you could sense the tide turning. The game was tied at 69 with 4:37 left after an Andre Iguodala three.
A few words here about Andre: I don’t know what it is about that guy, but he just has a gift for playing his best on the biggest stage. He’s been absolutely key in the Finals this year, just like last year, playing phenomenal defense, chipping in much-needed points, grabbing loose balls and rebounds, and doing all the little things to help the team win. He was +15 last night, highest on the team; I don’t know if he’ll win Finals MVP again, but he probably deserves it.
From that point the teams went back and forth for a good long time; they were never separated by more than 4 points until Steph Curry hit a layup to give the Warriors a 6-point lead with 6:50 left in the 4th quarter. At that point the blood was in the water. An Iguodala offensive rebound leading to a Harrison Barnes 3 raised the lead to 9, and the Cavs never really threatened again. LeBron James, sensing his dream of bringing a championship to Cleveland slipping away yet again, started to lose his cool. He threw Draymond Green to the ground and stepped over him, leading to a chest-to-chest exchange of views between the two #23s. Later, LeBron held and bumped Steph Curry at least three separate times on an inbounds play — with no call, I might add — prompting the normally mild-mannered Chef to vocalize his displeasure to both LBJ and the ref.
In the end, it mattered not. The Cavs couldn’t close the gap, and when they got desperate and started fouling, Steph and Klay went 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the last minute. The Dubs lead the series 3–1 with Game 5 scheduled for Monday in Oaktown. It would be nice to see them clinch the title at home. Nothing is guaranteed — the Cavs, with their backs against the wall, will fight like mad — but the champagne is on ice, just in case.