Golden State made a few key adjustments heading into Game 4. For one, they defended Tony Allen with a big and gave him wide open jump shots he can’t hit consistently. Second, they attacked Zach Randolph with the pick-and-roll every chance they got.
That second one — plus the fact his shot started to be in rhythm again — had Stephen Curry looking like the MVP. Curry dropped 33 on Memphis, but the impressive part was he didn’t score in the first 8:28 of the game, looking instead to set others up and let the offense find its pace and what worked without him. Then things opened up for him; he hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper, and the floodgates opened.
Other Warriors had big nights as well — Draymond Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds — but the big key was simply getting open looks and hitting them. For Curry, 12 of his 22 shots were uncontested, and he hit eight of those dozen good looks.
PBT Extra video: Injuries taking toll on both Cavs, Bulls
Behind buzzer-beaters from two former MVPs, the Bulls and Cavs are tied up at two games apiece and Kurt Helin gives his take on which side’s injury concerns will hinder their team’s chance at winning the series.
PBT Extra: How safe is David Blatt as coach of the Cavaliers?
Blatt’s status become a topic again after Game 4, and on Monday LeBron tried to play down his comments from Sunday. But the fact is the relationship between Blatt and LeBron has never been tight. And LeBron is the power in the Cleveland organization now — he inherited Blatt, and if he doesn’t want him there after the season there will be changes.
And I expect changes.
Dwight Howard fined $15,000 by league for forearm to Matt Barnes’ head
It wasn’t the first technical foul that got Howard in trouble, when he jawed at a referee. Nor the second one early in the fourth quarter when he picked up his sixth foul and threw the ball at the feet of a referee — which got him ejected from Game 4. At least that meant he didn’t have to watch the rest of his team getting blown out.
Rather, it was his first foul of the game that earned him a $15,000 fine from the NBA, something the league announced on Monday.
With9:21 remaining in the first quarter, Houston’s Terrence Jones had gone up for a top of the key jumper, and the Clippers DeAndre Jordan contested it. That left Matt Barnes trying to box out and cut off Howard, who was making a run to the rim. When Howard and Barnes collided, Howard took his forearm and elbow Matt Barnes’ head. That drew a whistle at the time. You can see the video at this link.
It’s just a little insult added to the injury of a rough series for Howard and the Rockets.
It’s official: Wizards’ John Wall out for Game 4 against Hawks
The Wizards won Game 3 without Wall, dominating and leading by more than 20 at one point. Washington took its foot off the gas and that combined with a great run from the Atlanta bench made things interesting in the end. Or, set up Paul Pierce for heroics, if you prefer.
This opens a door for Atlanta it has to step through this time. All season they have relied on their bench, but it is time for Mike Budenholzer to really lean on his starters. That group — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Al Horford — are +28 in this series but have played just 53 minutes as a group. That’s fewer than 18 minutes a night. In the debacle that was Atlanta’s Game 3 that lineup was +7 in 12 minutes. It’s the playoffs, time to go with what works. Or go home.