Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 |
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3:04 p.m.: The crowd at The Q is definitely hyped as Usher absolutely crushes the National Anthem. Usher’s a little like Klay Thompson. He’s always going to be really good and will sometimes make you think “Wait, why isn’t he one of the best in the game?”
3:09: The first major adjustment of the series for Golden State — Andre Iguodala will start as the Warriors go small. The Cavs’ size advantage is immediately evident as Tristan Thompson grabs offensive rebounds on the first two possessions.
3:13: LeBron no-look touch pass over his head for a Timofey Mozgov dunk, followed by an Iman Shumpert three. It’s 7-0 Cavs and a quick timeout for the Dubs. Cleveland with all the confidence early.
3:22: Great response by Golden State as Steph Curry nails a three to cut Cleveland’s lead to one. The Warriors have been getting the better and easier looks so far and the Cavs’ bigs aren’t contesting the three-point shot very well.
3:34: Iguodala nails another three to put the Warriors up 31-22 as the first quarter winds down. Golden State is giving more help defensively on LeBron and then getting out in transition. David Lee as their only big has been a huge boost for the Warriors.
3:52: Other than LeBron, the Cavs’ best offense has been to throw it up at the rim and let Tristan Thompson get the offensive board. But the Warriors look like themselves and have their biggest lead of the Finals, 44-32.
3:58: Andrew Bogut fouls James, who goes head first into a baseline camera and appears to be bleeding. The arena security tries to block ABC’s cameras from videotaping James while he’s on the ground. Um, yeah, that’s probably not going to happen.
4:03: The Warriors have been very obviously trying to kill the feel-good Matthew Dellavedova story. They’re attacking him defensively with whoever he’s guarding, even if it’s, gulp, Leandro Barbosa. He’s a tremendous off-the-ball defender, but they obviously think his on-ball skills without help can be exploited.
4:12: I’ve always been a David Lee fan, so it’s great to see his role return during these Finals. He easily puts in a textbook jump hook over the smaller J.R. Smith to again put Golden State up 12.
4:13: Referee Joey Crawford is emphatically telling Mozgov to shut up. There are few individuals in sports who annoy me more than Crawford. My reasons are too many to detail now, but the fact that a particular referee gets my blood boiling so often pretty much says it all.
4:17: Curry blows by an isolated Dellavedova to give the Warriors a 54-42 halftime lead. Delly glances back at Tristan Thompson with that “Uh, bro?” look on his face.
4:41: J.R. Smith makes a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Mozgov for a strong finish, followed by James knocking down a pair of free throws. It doesn’t feel like they should be, but the Cavs are down just nine and very much in this game.
4:50: The crowd is back into it after an Iman Shumpert “no-no-no-yes!” running floater cuts the lead to five. The Cleveland desperation that has been its best asset seems to be back.
4:53: Delly to LeBron alley-oop caps a 12-2 Cleveland run and Golden State calls timeout with its lead cut to just three points.
5:04: It’s becoming more and more evident that although Delly has been getting all the love, Mozgov is clearly the Cavs’ second-best player. LeBron gets him another easy bucket and Mozgov has 21 points.
5:08: A huge three by Curry gives the Warriors a 76-70 lead after three quarters. Golden State is holding on, but Cleveland has fought to stay in this one. It’s like a boxing match where the favorite believes he has a lead on the cards, but the underdog is stealing some late rounds with activity.
5:16: A couple of Curry assists push the lead back to 10 points. Without James on the floor, Cleveland has no exploitable matchups. David Blatt calls a timeout to, I assume, get his thoroughbred back in the game.
5:22: Four guys have a scrum for a rebound, resulting in Mozgov grabbing the ball and taking four steps. No call. OK.
5:23: Curry drains a step-back three to up the lead to 13 with eight minutes to play. It’s certainly not over, but LeBron has to do work the rest of the way and he hasn’t shown the same explosiveness since that hard fall earlier.
5:31: Iggy’s so fancy! Iguodala knocks down his fourth three-pointer to give the Warriors a 16-point lead with five minutes to play. It’s quiet in Cleveland, like a Browns pep rally.
5:41: Cleveland has thrown in the towel – in the form of Kendrick Perkins. Everyone except Mozgov had a down game for the Cavs.
5:47: Well, this one didn’t have the drama or flair of the first three games, but we’re heading back to the bay with a tie series after Golden State’s 103-82 win.
The Warriors regain home court advantage and may have gotten their swagger back.
LeBron isn’t going to go quietly, but he again has his work cut out for him. Bring on Sunday!
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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