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 mid-range 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 re-set. 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.
Game 4 Starting Lineups
The starting lineups for Game 4 are the same as they were for Game 3, with Andre Iguodala coming off the bench for Golden State.
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, JaVale McGee
Cavaliers: George Hill, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson
Top Story Lines for Game 4
• The Warriors are on the verge of the ninth sweep in N.B.A. finals history. The feat has not been accomplished since the 2007 San Antonio Spurs swept a young LeBron James and his Cavaliers teammates behind a dominant series from Tim Duncan. Golden State would be the first team to be responsible for two sweeps, as the 1975 Warriors swept the Washington Bullets.
• Golden State is a 4.5-point favorite tonight despite being on the road, and Kevin Durant talked openly to reporters about wanting to sweep Cleveland after they failed to do so last year, ruining what had been a perfect run in the playoffs.
• As impressive as LeBron James’s average of 37.7 points a game in the finals is, he has work to do if he wants to catch Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls star averaged 41 a game in 1993 against the Phoenix Suns. James, however, has stuffed a stat sheet unlike anyone before him, and has a chance at finishing a second consecutive finals averaging a triple-double. To go with his prodigious point total, he is averaging 10.7 assists and 9 rebounds a game. If the series were to end in a sweep, he would need to pull down 13 rebounds and dish out eight assists to pull off the feat.
• There has been plenty of speculation about what James may do after this season, with many people seeming to agree that he will leave Cleveland. His comments after practice on Thursday did nothing to dispel that notion. James talked about Golden State having more than one player that can step up on any given night, waxed nostalgically about his days in Miami when he had teammates who had what it takes to win championships, and referred in broad terms to players who don’t have what it takes to relentlessly pursue a championship. An optimist in Cleveland could take the comments to be him hoping the Cavaliers will import more talent for next season. A pessimist would assume it is the biggest indication yet that he is on his way out.
• The Finals M.V.P. debate, which had seemed to heavily favor Stephen Curry after Game 2, was upended by Kevin Durant’s 43-point virtuoso performance in Game 3. Should the Warriors sweep, Curry would seemingly need to have a huge outburst, combined with a slow night for Durant, if he wants to win the award for the first time.
• Plenty of factors have gone into the Warriors’ dominance in this series, including the team shooting 53.4 percent from the field versus Cleveland’s 43.1 percent, but the smaller Golden State players haven’t been able to compete for rebounds. Through three games they have 26 fewer rebounds than the Cavaliers and that deficit will probably grow more extreme in Game 4, win or lose.
• Scoring 15 points off the bench seemed to validate the concept that Rodney Hood was being underutilized by Cleveland up until now. Coach Tyronn Lue may have been savvier than he was getting credit for, as the Cavaliers, who lost by just eight points, were outscored by 12 in the 26 minutes Hood was on the court. That was the worst figure among the nine Cleveland players that appeared in the game.
• Andre Iguodala, who missed quite a few games with a bone bruise in his left knee, sustained a contusion on his right leg in Game 3, but he is listed as probable. Patrick McCaw, who is still being watched closely after a serious spine injury during the regular season, is also listed as probable. Cleveland’s entire roster is healthy.
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