The Golden State Warriors won what many in the media called a “must-win” game last night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I believe they won more than just the pivotal game 4.
The Warriors won their confidence and ‘swagger’ back. Many have been pointing fingers at Stephen Curry, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this season, because he hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype as MVP in this finals. For me, besides game 2 (Curry’s worst performance all season long), Curry hasn’t been the Warriors problem. The entire team has came up short.
Forward Draymond Green and Guard Harrison Barnes were pivotal players on both sides of the basketball all season long for the Warriors, but they haven’t shown up in the Finals… until last night.
Green finally imposed his will on offense and Barnes hit the open jumpers he has been hitting all season long, and it comes as no surprise the Warriors pulled away late to tie the series last night. Green had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, while Barnes added 14 points and 8 rebounds of his own. The 31 points and 15 rebounds Barnes and Green combined for were pivotal for the Warriors success last night, and their production will be key for the remainder of the series.
For comparisons sake, lets look at the two games the Warriors lost this series – games 2 and 3. In game two (Curry’s poor performance), they combined for 21 points but shot poorly (0-5 from 3). In game 3, Barnes shot 0-8 and produced 0 points, while Green shot 2-10 and only scored 7 points. While Curry went for 27 in game 3, it didn’t matter because his supporting cast didn’t show up. The Warriors feed off Curry’s offensive production and energy, but the entire team needs to come alive in order for them to play how they’ve been playing all year long.
On the other side, LeBron James of the Cavs is a perfect example of my point. He’s averaging about 36 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists per game (incredible), and if it wasn’t for his poor shooting performance last night (20 points, 7-22 shooting), those numbers would be even better. In the games the Cavs won (games 2 and 3), his supporting cast has shown up, especially guard Matthew Dellavedova. In both wins, “Delly” had a combined 29 points and the Cavs were +28 with him on the floor. In their loss last night, he shot 3-14 (10 points) and the Cavs were -12 with him on the floor.
The point I want to make is that the Warriors had an incredible season, not just Curry. James is having an incredible series, but he can’t do it alone. The Warriors should have no problem defeating the Cavs, as long as they play the basketball they’ve played all season long. It’s not just about the big names – the Steph Curry’s and the LeBron James’ of basketball. Players like Green and Barnes add a certain swagger to the Warriors, and are key players. Just as it goes with other sports, winning a championship takes team chemistry and production.
A single player won’t get the job done. Even if it’s the best player on the planet.