Kurt Helin

150611_Iguodala

Small ball works, Golden State handles Cleveland comfortably to even series

46 Comments

CLEVELAND — They went small from the opening tip. The ball flew around the court. Three pointers fell at a 40 percent clip, led by the MVP hitting four. They pushed the ball off the other team’s makes and misses, then attacked the rim. They made the extra pass.

Put simply, the Golden State Warriors looked more like the 67-win Warriors from the regular season again.

And the result was a comfortable win 103-82 victory for Golden State, behind 22 points each from Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry.

With the win, the Warriors evened the NBA Finals at 2-2 and are heading home for Game 5 Sunday.

And now it’s David Blatt and the Warriors’ turn to come up with answers, because the first big adjustment of the Finals came from Steve Kerr — and it worked.

“We did it for pace and floor spacing and just to get the tempo going…” Kerr said of the switch to starting small. “We controlled the tempo and the rhythm of the game. But that I think had more to do with us competing and getting to long rebounds and loose balls. I thought the first three games they were the more competitive team. Maybe it’s our first trip to The Finals, we thought we can play hard. It’s not just about playing hard. It’s about playing every single possession like it’s your last. And I thought tonight our effort took a step up, and that’s why we were able to win.”

“It made sense when (Kerr) told us just because we’ve been getting off to such slow starts,” Curry said of being told about the switch. “When we have that lineup out there in parts of the game, we were able to turn defensive stops into transition and just pick the tempo and the pace of the game up.”

Kerr altered his starting lineup for Game 4, starting Andre Iguodala in place of big center Andrew Bogut. This small lineup had been +18.8 per 48 minutes in limited run (20 minutes in the Finals) but Steve Kerr was going to use it to pick up the pace and make this a more Warriors friendly pace. It worked.

Well, not for the first minute, the Cavaliers raced out to a 7-0 lead (including a no-look LeBron James feed to Timofey Mozgov). But then Stephen Curry hit a couple threes, the small lineup opened up the floor, the attacked the rim, and the Warriors started to look like themselves again.With balanced attack (Green and Barnes each had five early) and Warriors came back to lead 22-20 and never looked back from there.

The Warriors pulled away and were up 54-42 at the half. They shot 46.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-17 from three in the first half — not vintage numbers for the Warriors, but far better than we had seen through three games. Most importantly Curry got some help, from Draymond Green who had 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the first half, and Andrew Iguodala had 9 points (all in the first quarter). The energy of the Warriors was just different this game.

“I think if we played as hard as we were playing the last couple of games, it would have won us probably 67 regular season games, but it would have lost us the Finals 4-1, and that’s what we had to change,” Green said. “And we were able to do that tonight.  That’s what helped us out a lot.  That’s what helped me out.”

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were 2-of-13 from three in the first half and 4-of-27 for the game — the new Warriors lineup gave them looks, couldn’t hit them. On the night, the Cavaliers were 6-of-29 on uncontested looks.

“We didn’t make shots,” Blatt said. “And that put a little bit more pressure on (LeBron), too, because he was passing the ball, and the normal shots that we make in that situation, we didn’t.”

On the other end, the Cavs defense in the paint wasn’t the same when Mozgov had to come much farther from the perimeter to protect the rim compared to how close he was with Bogut.

But the third quarter was far more the Cavaliers kind of game. The Cavaliers defended well and the Warriors were 5-of-15 from the floor, plus the Cavaliers out-rebounded Warriors 17-6 in third. All that led to a 12-2 run midway through the third cut the lead all the way down to three.

The Cavaliers tried to punish the small lineup by going inside, Timofey Mozgov led the Cavaliers with 28 points. He did an excellent job sealing off smaller guys and getting early, deep position all night long.

But at the start of the fourth, LeBron had to rest — he said he was “gassed” — and the Warriors got back in their flow and stretched the lead back up to double-digits. Fatigue was an issue.

“Tonight was the third game in five days, including the trip back from the West Coast, and it seemed to have an impact on us, yes,” Blatt said.

The Warriors’ best lineup had Shaun Livingston on the floor, and that made things happen. Plus the Warriors got good minutes from David Lee, who had 9 points on the night.

LeBron careens into cameraman after foul, stays down for a stretch

LeBron James
36 Comments

CLEVELAND — It wasn’t flagrant, it was a smart playoff foul. LeBron James was driving toward the rim, Andrew Bogut fouled him to make sure he’d earn his points from the charity stripe.

But LeBron landed off balance and went careening into the cameramen. LeBron’s head hit hard on a camera, and he stayed down for a couple minutes, and pictures after showed a circle on LeBron’s head from the lens.

However, there wasn’t much blood, and he came back in to take his free throws — if he hadn’t taken the free throws he could not have returned to the game. LeBron didn’t come out immediately afterwards. There was no concussion test.

Warriors make first big adjustment: Start Andre Iguodala over Bogut

Andre Iguodala
6 Comments

CLEVELAND — Golden State wants to play faster, so they are going smaller.

The Warriors changed their starting lineup for Game 4, starting Andre Iguodala in place of Andrew Bogut. The result was a starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Iguodala and Draymond Green.

The Warriors needed to so something to shake up the pace. This Warriors new starting lineup has been +18.8 points per 48 minutes in the Finals, but played just 20 minutes. They were  +19.7 per 48 minute in the regular season but only played just more than 100 minutes.

It didn’t open up well in Game 4 for Golden State. Tristan Thompson grabbed an offensive rebound for a bucket, Timofey Mozgov had a three and Iman Shumpert nailed a wide-open three off a LeBron no look.

The Warriors started 0-of-3 shooting, and the Cavaliers raced out to a 7-0 lead, but the Warriors hit a couple after that and started to settle down. Eventually by the four minute mark left in the first it was 22-20 Warriors.

After Game 3 cramping, fatigue Matthew Dellavedova doing away with pregame coffee

Matthew Dellavedova
8 Comments

CLEVELAND — The professional sports tradition of guys looking for a little pop of energy — from legal and illegal substances — has never gone away.

A legal route Matthew Dellavedova has gone — coffee.

His pregame cup or two of joe, and sometimes another at halftime, has been a tradition since before he was with the Cavaliers. But he needed to be taken to the hospital after he cramped up and suffered severe fatigue following Game 3 of the NBA Finals. That was enough, Delly is dumping coffee, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“There will be no coffee tonight,” Dellavedova said after Cavs shootaround Thursday. “It’s not a good thing, probably, for your hydration…

“The Finals’ intensity is probably a little bit different to the regular season,” Dellavedova said. “You just try to lay it out there. So, you’re just pushing yourself.”

That’s a smart move, but is it going to be near enough? When you take your body down to empty like that it takes time to get back up to full. Maybe more than 48 hours. Especially if he’s going to spend part of Game 4 chasing Stephen Curry around while the Warriors run him off screens like vintage Ray Allen.

“I told him I was going to limit his minutes, and he said, no, you’re not,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said at practice Wednesday. “Look, we’ve got to be realistic and keep our eyes on him and see how he recovers. He emptied the tank last night. Hopefully in the ensuing 48 hours he’s going to be able to catch up and to get back up to par, so to speak, in terms of his body. But he’ll be out there, and we’ll just monitor how he’s doing. I’m not going to come in there with a specific minute restriction, but we’ll definitely be conscious of it.”

If Dellavedova can’t stick with Curry in the usual way, it could be a rough night for him and the Warriors.

Matthew Dellavedova more than cult hero, now meme

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three
6 Comments

The Cavaliers scrappy guard Matthew Dellavedova is more than just a good defender and cult hero in Cleveland.

He’s a meme.

And how much do the ladies like Delly?