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NBA Finals Game 4 Analysis: Cleveland's reckoning was swift and severe

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The Warriors asserted their depth, ball movement and outside shooting acumen against a tired Cavs team, tying up the series in the process.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: know who provides a great soundtrack for depressed and/or angsty times in life? Radiohead.

Now that you've got some somber tunes going, let's talk about that awful Game 4 loss at the hands of the Golden State "Hey We Suddenly Remembered That We Are Actually a Flying Death Machine" Warriors.

As Chris Manning pointed out in his recap immediately after the final buzzer sounded, the key to the contest was Golden State's ability to dictate pace. How did they do that? By starting Andre Iguodala for the first time all season, and by playing Andrew Bogut for three minutes and Festus Ezeli zero. In other words, Steve Kerr left his two true big men on the bench for almost the entire game. He shortened his rotations all the way down to seven guys (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Iggy, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, David Lee, and Shaun Livingston) and decided to live with the Cavs' frontline trying to beat them.

Which is exactly what Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson tried to do. Mozgov had 28 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-16 shooting, including 10-of-12 free throws, while Tristan chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds on 6-of-10 field goals. Not only were the Cleveland bigs scoring off of offensive rebounds - they had six apiece -  but LeBron started looking for Mozgov sealing in the paint in transition. Those aspects of the Cavs' offense worked; the problem, of course, is that NOTHING ELSE did.

Golden State was able to live without a rim protector on the floor because there are no weak perimeter holes among their starting lineup. Everyone is long, athletic and has quick feet. The Warriors switched just about everything on picks, and while the occasional mismatches happened (especially if Shaun Livingston or David Lee were on the floor), again, they lived with it. Through three games, Golden State had been trying to figure out how to stop LeBron from getting anything resembling a head of steam as he darts towards the paint, where he could finish inside or create for someone else. Thursday night, they found the right lineups to do just that.

With so many athletes on the floor, the Warriors were able to turn their many defensive stops into transition opportunities. In Game 3, Golden State had just 4 fastbreak points; in Game 4, that figure jumped to 11. Harrison Barnes finally hit some shots (2-of-5 from downtown), Draymond Green shook off some early-game jitters to post a 17-7-6 line on 6-of-11 shooting with 2 steals and zero turnovers, and while neither Curry nor Klay were particularly dominant, the overall attack was just too much for the tired Cavaliers to handle.

Cleveland's guards looked particularly gassed. Matthew Dellavedova hit just 3-of-14 shots. J.R. Smith is all sorts of broken (he's now shooting 29.7 percent from the floor, 25 percent from beyond the arc, and has 3 assists and 2 free throw attempts in 130 minutes in the Finals). Everyone not named Timofey, Tristan and LeBron combined for 7-of-40 shooting and 22 points. No one else stepped up - not even a little - for the guys in wine and gold.

It's tough to criticize LeBron too much, even though he had inefficient shooting numbers (like it matters (*eyeroll*), but it's still worth mentioning). When 20-12-8 is an off night, you're pretty damn good. Combine Golden State's defensive strategy and Cleveland's cumulative fatigue from playing the past two games so shorthanded, and the result isn't exactly shocking. The Warriors finally used their depth and a gutsy strategy to get the ball out of his hands.

It remains to be seen whether this truly was the hour of Cleveland's reckoning - whether Kerr has made adjustments David Blatt simply cannot counter because his team is so thoroughly banged up. Results like Game 4 are what flashed through the minds of even the most optimistic Cavs fans, and certainly impartial NBA fans, once Kyrie Irving went down in Game 1. It just seemed inconceivable that the Cavaliers could keep up with a healthy Warriors team. For two games, they turned that notion on its head.

Can Cleveland get some rest and rediscover their magic elixir from Games 2 and 3? Can David Blatt come up with something to counteract Kerr's first major adjustment? Will LeBron get enough rest, will Delly get his body right, will J.R. wake the hell up, will Iman get on the right track?

We'll find out on Sunday night. In the meantime, just remember that Radiohead is your friend. They understand. They've got just the tunes for your sullen mood.