The Warriors played slowly in Game 4 – why it looked otherwise


Draymond Green brought up the above play – his quick inbound pass to set up an Andre Iguodala dunk – after the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

“That’s the type of thing that we need,” Green said. “We needed to put them on their heels. This entire series, it’s been them as the enforcers, them as the aggressors and us on our heels. We needed to reverse that.”source: Getty Images

“That’s something we’ve been missing throughout this entire series, is it has not been at our pace.”

No, the series has not.

But neither was Game 4

Not at least by the technical definition of pace: possessions per 48 minutes. In fact, using’s pace estimates, Game 4 was slower than Golden State’s Game 2 and Game 3 losses.

Here’s the pace of each Finals game. The horizontal black lines represent the NBA’s fastest-paced (notably the Warriors) and slowest-paced teams during the regular season.


And it wasn’t as if Golden State was up and down with pacing, scoring on plenty of short possessions and going long on other possessions. That can be a way for a team that plays slowly overall to still generate many transition baskets.

The Warriors scored just 11 fastbreak points in Game 4, well below their regular-season-leading 20.9 per game and their third-lowest output of the playoffs:


So why did the Warriors look faster when they actually played slower than the NBA’s slowest team?

Start with passing.

Passing isn’t always the answer. Stephen Curry isolated Matthew Dellavedova to much success, and Golden State definitely overpassed earlier in the series.

But the Warriors passed with purpose in Game 4.

For the first time all series, they had more uncontested shots (yellow) than contested shots (blue)


Good passes leading to open shots meant 24 assists – including six each by Curry and Green. That’s a series high for assists per 48 minutes (which levels the overtime games):


Crisp passing stretched Cleveland’s defense and led to open shots, which turned into made shots. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors posted their best offensive rating of the Finals.

Again, the horizontal black lines represent the highest- and lowest-scoring teams per possession during the regular season:


The Cavaliers have fought to slow the pace in this series, and in many ways, they succeeded in Game 4.

But the Warriors revealed something more important, an ability to duplicate aspects of their preferred up-tempo attack in the halfcourt. The whole idea of playing fast is to generate good, open shots. Passing can accomplish the same thing.

Golden State just negated Cleveland’s biggest strength so far in the Finals – dictating pace. That should be a scary thought for the Cavs and a comforting one for the Warriors.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

View this post on Instagram

I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.


Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

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Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at