The Cleveland Cavaliers, by simplifying their entire attack and running the offense through LeBron James, controlled the pace of the last two games. The result was a 2-1 series lead for Cleveland.
Tonight, the Golden State Warriors made their counter. To say it worked would be an understatement.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr inserted Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup for the first time all season in place of Andrew Bogut, moving Draymond Green to center and committing the Warriors to small lineups. With the Cavs again rolling with a frontcourt duo of Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov, the Warriors fell behind 7-0 early but soon got in a groove that they hadn't been in since Game 1 of the series. By the end of the first, the Warriors held a 31-24 lead.
From there on, Golden State controlled the game by controlling the game's pace. Sans a short-lived Cleveland third quarter push that saw the pace slow down and the Cavs get within three points, the Warriors looked like the team that won 67 games in the regular season. Behind some snappy ball movement and Iguodala helping the Warriors' offense better push the ball up the floor, the Warriors stayed in control. Ultimately, the Warriors broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter and outscored the Cavs 27-12 in the final period. Cleveland was just 2-14 from the field in the fourth.
Late, with the Cavs down 98-79, Cavs coach David Blatt sat LeBron and inserted little-used Joe Harris, Kendrick Perkins and Mike Miller to finish out the game.The end result was 103-82 win for Golden State.
Iguodala, perhaps the leading candidate for Finals MVP if Golden State wins the series, played 39 minutes and scored 22 points to go with 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Bogut played just three minutes and picked up three fouls along the way.
LeBron finished a series-low 20 points on a series-low 22 shot attempts to go along with 12 rebounds and 8 assists. Mozgov, who the Cavs posted up regularly due to a almost constant height advantage for the Cavs' center, finished with a career high 28 points and 10 rebounds. Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith, three players the Cavs need to shoot well in order make the slowed down offense work, finished a combined 7-35 from the field and 3-22 on 3-point attempts.
Warriors guard Steph Curry finished with 22 points, while Green had 17 in his best game of the series.
The loss gives home court advantage back to the Warriors, meaning the Cavs will either have to win Sunday's Game 5 of a hypothetical Game 7 on the road if they are to win the title.
The Warriors' win tied the series at two games apiece. Game 5, which tips off at 8 p.m. on Sunday, takes the series back to Oakland.