OAKLAND -- Can the Golden State Warriors take a punch? That is the question of the night as the Cavaliers walk into Oracle Arena looking to stave off elimination once again and shift the momentum of the series back to Cleveland.
Everyone should know the history here. After leading 3-1 in the Finals a season ago, the Warriors stumbled down the stretch and lost to this same Cavs team in Game 7.
Golden State took a 3-0 lead in the series this season, but the Cavs put on a show of physicality and marksmanship on Friday evening, taking Game 4 and setting up an eerily similar situation Monday night in Oakland.
“For us as a team tonight, we’ve got to be more on edge, I hope we’re a little more nervous,” Steve Kerr said during his pregame media scrum. “We didn’t seem that nervous in Game 4. Nervous is good. Appropriate fear is the Gregg Popovich line. We need that.”
Maybe it was the fact that the Warriors had posted a perfect 15-0 record heading into Game 4. They had a swagger and the Cavs quickly took it away.
Cleveland hit the Warriors early and often, scoring an incredible 49 points in the first quarter on their way to a 86-68 lead at the intermission. The final tally was a 21-point drubbing and a glimmer of hope for the Cavs.
The Cavs set the tone for how the game was going to be played. After watching the Warriors run circles around them in the first three games of the series, it Cleveland’s strength that stood out. They pushed Golden State all over the court, which they will attempt to do again in Game 5.
“We didn’t deserve a lot of calls the other night,” Kerr said. “They were the aggressor. Every time, in my experience in the Finals, when you have one team that’s much more aggressive than the other, things tend to go their way. Cleveland earned everything.”
The Cavs opened a door just a crack and will try to push their way back into the series in front of the Warriors home crowd. Maybe it was the wake up call that the Warriors needed. They’ll have to show that they can take a huge shot to the jaw and bounce off the canvas. If not, this series could get interesting very quickly.