Warriors have the momentum
James has stitches, needs teammates to step up
OAKLAND — Meanwhile, there are the Golden State Warriors.
The scorching-hot limelight can’t leave LeBron James— Is he fatigued? Can he win with this ragtag bunch? How’s his head?— but Golden State tiptoed back into the NBA Finals with a smooth, very Warrior-like Game4.
Stephen Curry is fine, thank you, and the Warriors’ new small-ball lineup might mark the tipping point in the series that resumes Sunday with Game 5 at Golden State.
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr doesn’t have to lie about this: Even though the series is tied, the Warriors are back in control, two victories from their first championship since1975.
Curry has found his stroke, scoring 39 points in the last five quarters, and veteran Andre Iguodala has been an unexpected boost, joining the starting lineup for Game 4 and scoring 22 points.
It seems pretty obvious Draymond Green will start again in place of nonexistent 7-footer Andrew Bogut, though Kerr wouldn’t confirm it. “Yeah, unfortunately, the dynamics are pretty tricky,” Kerr said Saturday. “I’ll just say that I’ve established my penchant for lying. So however I answer right now, you shouldn’t believe me anyway.”
It wouldn’t be fibbing if Kerr said he wanted more from Warriors All-Star Klay Thompson. He’s been quiet lately, scoring nine points on nine shots in Game 4 and 14 points on 16 attempts in Game3.
If Thompson and Curry string something together in the same game, Cleveland would be more than hardpressed to match them on offense. Not that Curry is stressing out.
“[Thompson] creates shots for others just by his presence on the floor. And that’s what makes our team great, is you have threats everywhere and you have to choose your poison,” Curry said.
After malfunctioning badly at home in Game 4, Cleveland got the maximum amount of rest in this round, three days to lick wounds and pine for damaged All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
James has said he’s fine despite needing stitches from his head-on collision with a TV camera. He’ll surely improve upon his 20point, seven-for-22 effort in Game4, won’t he?
The extra day of rest was like a “lifeline,” he said, trying to size up his need to take a lot of shots to score a lot of points.
“Well, I’m in a spot where I have to be very productive, and that’s just the spot I’ve always been in,” he said. “For me, it’s a lose-lose when it comes to, OK, well, in the first three games I score 40, but I shoot a lot of shots. Last game I scored20, Idon’t shoot as many shots, andwe lose. So it’s like, what do you want?
“All I care about is how I can produce for our team.”
The bigger questions orbit James’ teammates.
Will Matthew Dellavedova score 20 points (Game 3 output) or miss nine of 12 shots (Game 4 stats)? Can Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson plunder the Warriors’ teeny lineup just a little bit more? Will J.R. Smith do anything this series besides miss a ton of shots from his typically, uh, unique selection?
Smith seems the most down on himself and, at the same time, apt to punch out of his slump at anytime. He’s the one who scored 28 points against Atlanta in the Eastern Conference finals, making eight of12 three-point attempts.
“The best part about it, I can’t play no worse,” Smith said Saturday, cognizant he was shooting poorly in the series (29.8% to be exact).
The Warriors own the momentum and are 47-4 at Oracle Arena. Avictory Sunday puts them in very good shape. Andthat’s no lie.
ANDRE IGUODALA has been an unexpected boost for theWarriors, as he scored 22 points in Game 4.
KLAY THOMPSON of Golden State drives against Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert. Thompson has been quiet lately, scoring nine points on nine shots in Game 4, but has created opportunities for his teammates.