OAKLAND -- When the Warriors take the floor Monday night for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, they’ll do so with the lessons of Game 4 still etched on their minds.
The most lasting lesson is that sloppy defense will get them burned.
“We didn't give any kind of resistance in that first -- I'll call it first three minutes, where they just got real comfortable on our miscommunication,” Stephen Curry said Sunday. “We got separated from bodies a little too much and let them toe up on the 3-point line.
“And in that building especially, if you allow them to get that three-point game going early, they feed off of that energy.”
The Cavaliers, spurred by the home crowd at Quicken Loans Arena, shot 52.9 percent from the field, becoming the first team this postseason to shoot above 48 percent against the Warriors.
The Warriors were especially punished by Cleveland’s shooting beyond the arc. The Cavs dropped a Finals record 24 3-pointers -- accounting for 72 of their 137 points.
“Of those 24, I would say probably 10 of them were just mental breakdowns and giving them open looks,” Curry said. “And they're obviously great 3-point shooters. If you give them open looks, they're capable of making it, and they can make them in flurries.”
Among the 16 teams that entered the playoffs, the Warriors rank No. 1 in field-goal percentage defense, at 42.3. Their 3-point field-goal percentage defense, 33.5, is tops among all teams that advanced past the second round.
Yet the Cavs, aggressive from the start, scoring a Finals-record 49 points in the first quarter, including seven of the 24 triples, shot 53.3 percent from deep.
“They didn't do it by luck,” Kevin Durant said.
“They can match the effort they gave,” Draymond Green said. “But if we raise our level of effort and intensity, they don't hit 24 3s. I definitely expect them to match that effort, but I expect ours to be a lot better.”
Part of that expectation may come from the change of venue. The Warriors have been more prone to slippage on the road than at Oracle Arena, where Game 5 will be played.
“I expect us to come out guns blazing,” Green said. “If you get punched in the face, you want to respond. We know what it takes to win a championship. We know what we have to do in order to win this game.”
If the Warriors know what will be required to succeed, it’s because they studied plenty of video over the weekend that illustrated their inattention to detail as well as Cleveland’s offensive tenacity and accuracy in Game 4.
Guards Kyrie Irving and JR Smith combined for 55 points, including making 12-of-21 from deep. Power forward Kevin Love had his best offensive game, scoring 23 points and draining 6-of-8 3-pointers.
“Some of it was their ball movement and their ability to break us down from the perimeter, and some of it was us just not being ready to play and not ready to rotate, not helping each other fully,” Klay Thompson said. “So give Cleveland credit for their offense. They were moving the ball really well and slicing us up.
“But on the other side of that, we kind of let them. Our intensity wasn't the same as it was in the first three games, so we'll get back to that tomorrow.”
The Cavs have improved, game by game, on offense. Desperate to avoid being swept, they were practically perfect in Game 4.
The Warriors, as they have all season, believe their defense is the key to their success. It feeds their transition offense while simultaneously frustrating opponents.
“It all starts on the ball,” coach Steve Kerr said. “If you get broken down at the point of attack, now you have to help and now the dominoes start falling and they're swinging the ball side to side, and they got shooters everywhere. So our on-ball defense has to be better, our pick-and-roll defense has to be better.
“We have to bring it. We got to go take this game and do it with efficiency and competitive defense and alertness and awareness for 48 minutes. We didn't have any of that in Game 4.”