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.

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


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.

Warriors make first big adjustment: Start Andre Iguodala over Bogut


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


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.

Mychal Thompson on Matthew Dellavedova: “It’s a joke to think he can stop Steph Curry”


The story of the 2015 Finals so far as been Matthew Dellavedova, who has stepped into the Cavs’ starting lineup since Kyrie Irving went down, taking the defensive assignment of guarding Stephen Curry. He’s taken over the city of Cleveland and become something of a cult hero. One person who isn’t impressed, though, is Mychal Thompson, former NBA player and father of Klay.

Theoretically, he’s right. But Curry has not shot well in the Finals, save for a fourth-quarter explosion in Game 3. Maybe the Dellavedova magic will run out before the series is over. But for now, it looks like that’s exactly what he’s doing.