As far as I'm concerned, tonight's Game 4 between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers might as well be a Game 7. Whoever wins tonight will very likely win the series. If the Cavs go up 3-1, then they'll be just one win away with three games to go. If the Warriors tie things up, that would force the Cavs to have to win two out of three, with at least one of those wins coming in California. They beat Golden State on the road once before, but doing it again would be a tough task.
Unfortunately, the longer the series goes, the better things will look for the Warriors. They have way more depth. LeBron James has to be exhausted by now (he's averaging 47.3 minutes per game in these Finals), and he's not the only one. Matthew Dellavedova had to go to the hospital after playing 39 minutes on Tuesday night.
The formula for the Cavs to get the title is simple: win tonight, then hope the Warriors quit and steal Game 5, or come back home and get Game 6. If it starts to look like we're headed for a Game 7, I will really start to worry about the Cavs running out of gas. Let's hope they can stick to the formula and get the win tonight.
Who: Warriors at Cavs
What: NBA Finals, Game 4 (Cavs lead 2-1)
Where: Quick Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
When: 9 pm Eastern
TV: ABC (more broadcast info here)
Is David Lee going to be the x-factor? Lee saw his first action of the series in Game 3. In 13 minutes, he made all of his four field goal attempts and finished with 11 points and four rebounds. He also committed five fouls.
The conventional wisdom is that Lee helps open up the Warriors' offense, but he will really hurt their defense. I think he might be worth he risk at this point for Steve Kerr. Even if their defense suffers a bit, the Cavs may not have the weapons on offense to really take advantage. On the other hand, the Cavs might just attack him in the pick and roll every time he's out there, and it might suddenly become the most successful offense they've had this series.
Can we please have a crazy good J.R. Smith game? Smith hasn't exactly been a non-factor in the Finals. He's shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 2.3 made threes per game. But he hasn't really gone off yet. It would be great if he could have one of those games where he hits eight threes, like he did in Game 1 against Atlanta. That would take a lot of the pressure off of LeBron on offense.
Has Stephen Curry found his shot? After a rough start to Game 3, the league's MVP started to get things going late in the game on Tuesday and he almost brought his team back. If he shoots like that for an entire game, the Cavs are probably toast. They've done a great job on him up to this point, but if he's going to start hitting contested shots, then he will be unstoppable.
Can LeBron keep this up? What he's done up to this point is remarkable: 47.3 minutes, 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. He has to be exhausted. His usage rate so far is 44 percent, according to basketball-reference.com. For the sake of comparison, it was 32.3 percent during the regular season. He looks worn down by the end of every game.
This is why he took two weeks off during the regular season. This is why he sat out of a lot of games with various "injuries." That rest during the season may have taken him out of the MVP discussion, but it could pay huge dividends now.
I don't know how much he has left in the tank. I just hope it's enough to win two more games.