Before I get into some specifics about Golden State's win over Cleveland Friday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, let me say something that just has to be said: The officiating by the crew of Danny Crawford, Jason Phillips and Mike Callahan left a lot to be desired. A LOT.
If you happened to record the game, I'd invite you to run any number of plays back and count how many fouls went uncalled. Fouls that would have surely been called in a regular-season contest. It was ridiculous. They weren't even protecting shooters -- which is usually an NBA maxim. And when you overlook so many obvious fouls, it becomes such a random thing when you do actually call a foul. The inconsistency must make it extremely difficult to play in the game. I know it makes it hard to watch a game.
With that off my chest, let's deal with some specifics from this game:
- There was a lot of gabbing afterward about a little tap below the belt delivered by Draymond Green to LeBron James after a scuffle between the players. Let me just say that when you knock a guy down, then make things worse by disrespecting him by walking over him, it's not surprising you might get hit between the legs as you straddle him. Enough said about that foolishness.
- James scuffled with Green and Steph Curry in the fourth quarter -- a pretty obvious indication that his frustration level was getting pretty high. He also seemed to be battling teammate Kyrie Irving for shots down the stretch, which should never happen.
- Cleveland Coach Tyronn Lue needs to grab more control over that team. In the fourth quarter it was just James and Irving taking turns, or taking each other's turns, going one-on-one. By now, everyone knows how ineffective that can be.
- LeBron just hasn't ever seemed to figure out the appropriate balance between making his teammates better and getting his own good shots. It's plagued him his entire career. For as much time as he spends berating his teammates on the court, this man needs coaching more than most superstars do.
- Speaking of coaching, I'm going to be one of the few to say this because Charles Barkley and I were the only ones who didn't agree with starting Richard Jefferson Friday night: how in the world could any coach decide it's a better idea to start Richard Jefferson than Kevin Love in a Finals game? Love ended up playing just seven seconds more than Jefferson -- which is a joke. Love is an all-star, Jefferson is washed up. I will always think that was a very silly move -- especially with James and Irving doing nothing but playing hero-ball in the fourth quarter, with Love languishing on the bench. Lue will learn real soon that sometimes you get outcoached by someone else and sometimes you outcoach yourself -- which is what he did Friday.
- I've talked about how good Steve Kerr is as the coach of the Warriors but there's evidence in so many little things Golden State does during a game. Late, when the Cavs were trying to foul on every Warrior possession, Golden State caught the ball before it hit the ground after Cleveland made baskets and immediately got it inbounds to Steph Curry -- the league's best foul shooter. Seems like such a little thing until you see so many other teams fiddle around picking up the ball out of bounds after a make and allowing the defense to get set.
- Lue didn't give James or Irving a break in the second half and I know a lot of fans -- the same ones who thought Damian Lillard should have played every minute of the second half of every playoff game -- think that's proper. But it isn't. These guys aren't robots.