Don’t look now, but the Warriors have a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals. Again.
The Cavs shot better than 50 percent from deep in Friday’s Game 4 en route to a 137-116 trouncing of Golden State. Their 24 three-pointers made set an NBA finals record.
But it wasn’t the score that grabbed headlines on Friday night. The game’s officiating crew took heavy criticism from fans and media after the game.
First, the crew failed to eject Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia for what appeared to be an intentional punch to Iman Shumpert’s groin area.
And then there was the Draymond Green technical foul fiasco. Green picked up what appeared to be his second technical foul in the third quarter, which should have led to his ejection. But the referees allowed him to stay in the game when an earlier technical was changed and given to head coach Steve Kerr.
Green is three technical fouls away from the seven technical foul threshold that leads to automatic suspension.
Here is a sampling of what national media members said about Game 4:
The Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami called it an imperfect game for everybody involved, except for the Cavs: “The Warriors played terribly at the start, they gathered themselves to make it competitive into the third quarter, and then that third quarter was some of the oddest stuff in recent playoff history. Also: The Cavaliers were just better, too. That’s important to note–this was the Cavaliers team we expected to see from the outset, but it only arrived on Friday.”
Cleveland.com’s Bud Shaw said the Cavs saved face on Friday: “The Cavs played angry. They shot the three like it had been part of their brand all season long. They got after Steph Curry the way they did a year ago. Richard Jefferson bent over to talk to a sprawled Curry at one point, making you wonder if he mentioned Curry's classless squat on the court after Kevin Durant's killer three late in Game 3.”
ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande said Green needs to fix his behavior and his play on the court: “Even though he scored 16 points in Game 4, his most in these Finals, it took him 16 shots to get there -- more shots than either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. This is the Cavaliers' defensive plan coming to fruition: double-team Curry, stay home on Thompson, and let Green shoot. He was 1-for-6 on 3-pointers and is shooting 25 percent from beyond the arc in the series, the continuation of a steady slide downward since he made more than half of his 3-pointers in the opening round against Portland.”
The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman sounded off on the officiating: “Congratulations to the NBA for stealing its own show. The Cavaliers played one of the most spectacular Finals games of all time, winning 137–116, scoring a playoffs record of 86 points in the first half, and hitting a Finals record of 24 3s to extend the season to a Game 5 while the sport’s most iconic player threw a dunk to himself off the backboard. And here I am to talk about the game’s officials, who somehow managed to make a mess of a game Cleveland would’ve won under pretty much any circumstances.”
FiveThirtyEight.com’s Chris Herring said that it would be near-impossible for the Cavs to replicate their performance in Game 4: “For starters, Cleveland hit 24 triples on the night, the most in NBA Finals history. The Cavs were the beneficiaries of some truly awful calls early in the contest and got to the line 22 times in the opening quarter en route to scoring a Finals-record 49 points in the first period alone. They had an All-Star-Game like 86 points at halftime, and had logged 115 points — more than they’d had in any game this series — through the end of three periods. None of these statistics figure to present themselves again.”
The Ringer’s Danny Chau said the Cavs played “exemplary basketball” on Friday: “The Cavaliers’ game plan was sound: For the first time all series, Cleveland made a concerted effort to force the prospect of scoring on the Warriors’ less lethal weapons like Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston. Green was goaded into taking six 3s (he made one) and attempted more shots than either Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, which the Cavs will live with for the rest of the series if they can manage it.”