Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, NBA Playoffs

NBA Finals 2018: Warriors vs. Cavaliers Game 4 live blog

The end of an era

Well, they say it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but really, it’s pretty much over when the announcers start speculating about LeBron’s summer plans instead of actually discussing the game happening in front of them. As the Warriors lead reaches 25 with less than five minutes remaining, the inevitability of a Warriors championship that has been bemoaned all season is coming to pass. After three games of bending, but not breaking, the Cavaliers finally broke, appearing to psychically admit to themselves the hopelessness of their cause. And now, as LeBron sits down — perhaps for the last time as a member of the Cavaliers — it is maybe the end of one era, and the continuation of another: that of Warriors dominance.

A Jeff Green-sized white flag

he odds of a Cavaliers comeback were lower than the 3-1 series comeback but Ty Lue really just started the fourth quarter down 18 with Jeff Green as the guy who was supposed to carry the offense. I am glad he let us know he is done with this season too.

How does it end?

Unless LeBron channels the spirit of previous NBA greats it looks like this 21 point-lead at the end of the third quarter has sealed the deal for Golden State to repeat as NBA champions. The question now turns to how will LeBron walk off Quicken Loans Arena. Beaten and defeated with his jersey removed like when he walked off the court in Boston in 2010? Or will The Q give their King a standing ovation for all he’s done for their franchise and let him rightfully walk off to cheers.

Cleveland rocks?

At least we had the first 47 minutes and 56 seconds of Game 1.

It’s as simple as cake

Here’s the difference in this series: Cleveland needs LeBron to make an incendiary pass to get an open layup. Steph beats his man off the dribble at the 3-point line and he has an uncontested cake walk to the basket.

The Finals in one stat

It is just brutal how all of the not LeBron/Love Cavs have been this series. JaVale McGee has more field goals than anyone else on the Cavaliers. It is a shame that may be the way the LeBron James Cavaliers end.

Jinx, or reverse jinx?

So, this is probably it, right? Golden State is up 15 and the third quarter has just begun. LeBron is exhausted and down to exactly zero good eyes. Steph Curry is well-rested from doing a whole lot of nothing last game. George Hill is still thinking about that Game 1 free throw.

Wait, did I just do a reverse jinx?

The real MVP

No disrespect to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the biggest storyline of Game 4 so far has been whether Steph Curry or Kevin Durant would take home Finals MVP at the conclusion of the 2018 NBA Finals. Through one half Curry holds the edge as he outscored Durant 20-12. If Cleveland decides to actually try defensively KD ISO’s might be the ticket to carry GSW home and give Durant his second straight Finals MVP trophy. Curry’s gotten off to the hot start early and anything besides a repeat of his Game 3 effort all but seals up the Bill Russell trophy for himself and floods our timelines with #StephBetter tweets

First half rewind

After an abysmal shooting performance in Game 3, Stephen Curry has certainly gotten his groove back, going 4-of-6 from 3 for 20 first half points. He has been the best player on the floor so far and, if he is able to continue shooting as well as he has so far, it should be a wrap on the series and the season. The Cavs are also shooting relatively well from 3 — exactly 40 percent one half in — which is helping keep them in the game. However, Cleveland needs more help from their bench if they are going to extend the series. They are in desperate need of something, anything, from Kyle Korver, and could really use a repeat of Rodney Hood’s Game 3 heroics as well. Without that, it may be the end of the line for the Cavaliers.

Microcosm

This game is a microcosm of the series. The Warriors go on runs, but the Cavaliers have never let them completely run away, at least not early on. If it continues to resemble Games 1-3, that doesn’t bode well for Cleveland, but at least it’s competitive going into the second half.

Larry Nance Junior

The Cavs are playing hard on offense but at some point they need to start defending the Warriors. Also, since he has gotten healthy I have really liked what Larry Nance Jr. has given Cleveland. He is much less valuable if LeBron leaves and leaves them as a lottery team but he is such a perfect role player for a good squad.

A mirage?

Buckle up, buckaroos…We’ve reached the point of the game where the Cavaliers rope us into believing they can win.

Offensive rebounds

And the Cavaliers are, incredibly, back in front. One of the most consistent sources of strength in this series has been their work on the offensive glass. To this point, Cleveland has more offensive rebounds (10) than the Warriors have defensive rebounds (9), and the Cavaliers have taken five more shot attempts and 10 more free throws. The Cavaliers don’t have to be more efficient than Golden State, if they can just get more shots.

Everybody else

It may sound silly, but the role players on the Warriors determine a lot about their team. Last game it was JaVale, Shaun Livingston, and Jordan Bell combining to make a ton of shots. Tonight it’s Andre Iguodala nailing 3s. With all of the threats that the Warriors’ stars provide, it’s impossible not to gravitate to them. That, of course, leaves the role players more open. When they capitalize on those opportunities Golden State becomes an unsolvable equation, and these Cavaliers are no Will Hunting.

Let pessimism reign

It’s also that they just don’t have the talent to keep up. Golden State is bringing in Andre Iguodala to spell their starters when he’d be the third-best guy on Cleveland.

Just stop, they’re already dead

This game is already over. At this point the only drama is how many points is Stephen Curry going to score. Cleveland just doesn’t have the fight in them and it is clear in their body language.

Just stop, they’re already did

This game is already over. At this point the only drama is how many points is Stephen Curry going to score. Cleveland just doesn’t have the fight in them and it is clear in their body language.

Curry, with the good shots

Steph Curry has already put up more than the 11 points he managed in Game 3. He’s aggressively seeking the crazy 3s he likes so much, and he’s making them. If Steph is going to maintain this level of play for 48 minutes, Cleveland will not need to worry about traveling back to Oakland again, because this thing will be over right here.

Still on their feet

The Warriors have already landed some haymakers (two Durant blocks and a ridiculous Stephen Curry 3-pointer) but the Cavaliers are still on their feet, jabbing away and the deficit is just three.

What do the Cavs have left?

It’ll be very interesting to see how the Cavaliers look throughout this game. Are they going to seem hungry and fight for all 48 (or more) minutes? Or will the inevitability of Golden State winning sink in and end this one early? We’ll find out soon enough.

It’s not your fault, Kevin

I just want to take this moment to appreciate the beautiful soul that is Kevin Love. He’s averaged 21 and 12 through the first three games of the Finals and he’s probably gonna get dragged after this is over. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, KEVIN!

Sweep stats

If the Warriors win tonight, it will complete the first Finals sweep since LeBron’s first Finals appearance in 2007, when the Spurs swept the Cavaliers. The Warriors had a chance to sweep entering Game 4 of last year’s Finals, but completed the Gentleman’s Sweep in five games instead. While Golden State has looked much more human than last year — or at least less engaged — the Cavaliers are also a weaker team and a sweep would not be altogether unsurprising. Most analysts believed the Rockets/Warriors series was the real NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers have done nothing to convince those who believed this otherwise.

Does it matter?

Well, we’re at the point where the game seems largely perfunctory considering the fact that no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, and if any team is ever going to do so, it’s not likely to be this Cavaliers team against this Warriors team. The only real drama left all takes place at a micro level — will LeBron score 50? Will Steph Curry make a play for Finals MVP? will J.R. Smith remember the score of the game throughout? — rather than at a macro level where we ask who will win the 2018 NBA Championship. The main thing I can’t shake, though, heading into tonight’s game is how odd it feels for such a high-stakes game to feel so, honestly, low-stakes.

You the real MVP

In case you were wondering, Kevin Durant has been REALLY important to the Warriors offense.

Game 4 prep

Here’s everything you need to know heading into what could be the last game of the NBA season.

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