The NBA Finals shifts back to the west coast tomorrow night with the Warriors needing just one more win to become back-to-back champions. The storyline now for the game broke the news today as the league officially declared Draymond Green’s actions against LeBron James in their skirmish a flagrant foul, suspending him for game 5. The basketball gods might have gifted Cleveland with the miracle they needed to keep their title hopes alive in suspending Green. The Cavs looked straight up overmatched again in the second half of game 4, as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson caught fire combining for 63 points between them. LeBron led the way for the Cavs with 24-11-9 but 6 points came in garbage time when the Warriors were no longer playing defense and just kept getting the ball, getting fouled, and going to the foul line. The common fan would look at James’ numbers and think that would be plenty good enough to lead a team to victory, but clearly it is far from true. LeBron needs to be scoring 30+ the rest of the games if the Cavs have a chance. He just isn’t getting enough help from his supporting cast to be passive at any part during the game. Pretty harsh that I sit here and criticize him for being unselfish I know, but in order for Cleveland to bring home the championship, LeBron will have to do more.
LeBron likes settling into the game by being a distributor for his teammates for the first part of the game, usually the first half of the first quarter at least. He has always liked doing that. But now down 3-1 and the series back in Oakland where the Warriors are practically immune to losing, even with Draymond Green sitting with his suspension, LeBron will need to score a lot. Kevin Love was brought off the bench in game four, a tactic coach Tyronn Lue tested out for two reasons: First, because when Richard Jefferson played in Love’s place in game three he shined, and second, to try to spark a fire in his superstar’s stomach to motivate him to ball out. Welp, it clearly didn’t work as both Jefferson and Love had poor outings, and not bringing anything to the table. LeBron was stuck with the lion’s share of responsibility like usual, and didn’t play well enough to practically single-handedly will his team to victory.
I think Draymond Green being suspended for game 5 for the Warriors is a significant blow for the defending champs, don’t get me wrong. He gives Klay and Steph the ability to slowly get into their grooves if they are not out of the gate hot. He is a mismatch for anyone that guards him outside of James, which eventually leads to the help defense slacking off of Curry or Thompson and giving them room to catch and shoot. These guys only need one shot to go in to get into rhythm, and now that one of their big keys to success is out, it will be on them two to make their own rhythm, and we have seen them have trouble doing so at times this postseason. Again, however, I think the main key in game 5 is in LeBron James’ play. If he comes out overly aggressive from the jump and puts the game into his own hands, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cleveland take this to 6 games. It is also just as likely that he doesn’t come with that savage mentality and puts up decent numbers like he has done all series long, but just hasn’t been enough. So lets see it Bron, show us that you are still primed and ready to bring Cleveland their first title in history.