All it took was one lineup change.
After inserting Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup in favor of Andrew Bogut, the Golden State Warriors went from flat, confused, and discombobulated to fast, efficient and lethal in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 103-82.
“Well, this was a good idea really for (anyone who has) not been paying attention to the Warriors,” CSN Bay Area Warriors television announcer Bob Fitzgerald said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “This is a team that has amazing shooters – and they shot 40 percent on threes, finally – and they also held Cleveland to 33 percent shooting. In Game 2, they held Cleveland to 32 percent shooting, but the Warriors have had a clunky offense the first three games of this series, which is why it’s tied. So tonight, this was the small lineup that has been so lethal for the Warriors for most of the season really going small because Iguodala got his first start of the year. But these are open threes that they have had throughout the series. Going into (Game 4), they had had 27 uncontested (missed threes).”
Uncontested, in this context, means no defender within four feet.
“So that’s Cleveland getting really lucky,” Fitzgerald said. “(Just) daring Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Iguodala, and Steph and Klay to miss wide-open threes – and for three games, they did. Tonight they made more of them, and Cleveland suffered the consequences.”
It was a welcome sight for Golden State. Curry is averaging 23.5 points in the series but shooting just 33-of-80 (41.3 percent) from the floor. Why is the league MVP suddenly struggling?
“I think Andre Iguodala said it best on the podium post-game,” Fitzgerald said. “Everything that happens to all the other players on the team is because of the attention that Steph Curry draws.”
So, basically he’s LeBron James – only five inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter.
“Now at 6-3, he’s not LeBron or he’s not a Dwight Howard or he’s not a Zach Randolph,” Fitzgerald said. “You can’t put him in the post. So what teams do, as soon as he crosses half-court, there’s two, three guys (guarding him). I think I saw Jim Brown guarding him in Game 3. They got everybody who’s ever been a Cleveland resident guarding Steph at various times in this series. So he can pass the ball. He’s drawing three defenders and then the Warriors have these 4-on-3s and 3-on-2s that they have to capitalize on.”
They did in Game 4, shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and recording 24 assists on 36 made field goals.
“I don’t think Cleveland’s ever going to be in a position where they just single-cover Steph,” Fitzgerald said, “but you saw at the end of the quarter, he just abused Dellavedova and went right around him and laid it in. If you single-cover Steph Curry, there’s nobody on the Cavs that can guard him. That’s why David Blatt is smartly sending so many extra bodies.”