Draymond Green was involved in another dust-up, but Friday night showed Cleveland is a thin team. Even if Game 5 goes to the Cavs, their task is nearly impossible
You know youre at the end of a lopsided NBA finals series when the post-game chatter starts to be about everything besides basketball. I think its fair to say that debating whether or not Draymond Green called LeBron James a bitch, pondering the life choices of Andrew Bynum, or finding creative ways to make fun of Steph Currys new shoes are more intriguing than the product on the court. I mean, did you see those shoes?
Despite Game 4 earning the distinction of being the first truly competitive contest in the entire series, I cant say with a straight face that I ever doubted the outcome. It was a classic Golden State performance meander through the first half while keeping it close, then drop the hammer in the fourth quarter. I remarked to the group of friends I was watching the game with that if the margin at the half was plus or minus five points, the Warriors were winning. When the Cleveland lead was exactly five points, I immediately doubted my personal aversion to gambling and wish I had dropped every cent on the Dubs to cover.
The Warriors second half explosion was a fait accompli. The three-pointers fell in greater numbers, the rebounds went their way, and their interior defense finally sealed off the paint. The Cavaliers owned the interior for most of the game, though scoring 48 points in the painted area compared to a mere 20 for the Warriors. But again, simple math wins the day. Three is more than two. The Cavs, who had promised us a better showing from beyond the arc in the previous series, shot a dreadful 24% from three. Even worse, they shot 57.7% from the free throw line. Lament LeBrons alleged passivity in the fourth quarter, but these numbers have nothing to do with those hot takes. Its going to be exceedingly difficult to win an NBA finals game shooting free throws at under 60%, especially in a game where people are being punched in the genitals fairly often.
Yeah, lets talk about the low blow, if we must. If Draymond Green were a professional wrestler, hed be Ric Flair, the dirtiest player in the game.
Green shares Flairs gift for verbal jousting and his love of a good slap in the junk. Green is the kind of guy every NBA dynasty needs. The 80s Celtics had Kevin McHale. The Showtime Lakers had Kurt Rambis, though Green is significantly better at basketball than Rambis. The Bulls had Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman. And the 2000s Lakers had Rick Fox and Ron Artest. Someone has to do the things that are unpleasant, and more importantly, figure out how to get away with them. That we are even debating whether or not the low blow was intentional is proof positive that Green employed it at just the right time already tangled up with LeBron, in a position where he appeared to be the victim.
The Cavs simply dont have anyone that diabolical. I dont mean to say that Cleveland needs to be punching dudes in their undercarriage to win a title. Its really more that their team lacks the kind of variety of personnel that the Warriors can employ at will. They just dont have any extra wrinkles left to throw at Golden State. If the situation calls for a low blow, whos the guy on the Cavs thats going to get away with it? Matthew Dellavedova? I dont even think he could get away with stealing a Snickers bar from a liquor store, let alone pull off the high-level chicanery of Draymond Green. Sure, he tries to be devious, but hes about as subtle as Bill Pullmans speech from the movie Independence Day.
Cleveland has no cards to play in Game 5, while the Warriors are very obviously not done tweaking their attack. Case in point: the Game 4 emergence of James Michael McAdoo, king of the DNP most of this playoff run. When he was inserted into the game, I thought maybe Steve Kerr had sneezed, but it sounded like McAdoo and everyone just went with it. He only played seven minutes last night and only took one shot (a make) but his athleticism and solid defense made an impact. As I said in my Game 3 column, the Cavs bench is a shambles, which was proven yet again last night. Their reserves scored 15 points. Eleven of those were from Kevin Love. The only other bench players to score were Dellavedova (two points, one rebound, one assist) and Iman Shumpert (two points, one rebound, one received crotch shot, one embarrassing Vine). Game 3 hero and newly minted starter Richard Jefferson only scored three points in the follow-up, leaving everyone who was sure he would be the key to the Cavs evening this series wondering where it all went wrong.
Cleveland is a thin team, one that doesnt possess the variety of looks that Golden State can bombard you with. Even if Game 5 goes to the Cavs, the task at hand is nearly impossible. How does a team beat these Warriors three games in a row with their starters forced to play over 40 minutes a game? That realization should be far more painful than any low blow inflicted by Draymond Green.