The Cavaliers will once again face elimination at the hands of the Warriors when the teams meet back at Oracle Arena for Monday night's Game 5. The task of coming back may feel a little less daunting after Cleveland's Game 4 victory, one that could provide some takeaways for the Cavs if they hope to continue to move forward in the series.
Here are three things Cleveland should have learned from Game 4 that can help in Game 5 and beyond.
Draymond Green's buttons can still be pushed
Green's suspension in last year's Finals opened the door for Cleveland's historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit, and while he's largely been on his best behavior during Golden State's playoff run this season, we saw in Game 4 that his buttons can still be pushed.
The high level of emotion that Green plays with is almost always a positive for the Warriors, but it also means that he's constantly on edge. And a few bad calls by the referees or a testy exchange with his opponents could push him past the brink, as it did when he picked up (just one) technical foul in the third quarter.
When you're trying to win a championship (and trailing 3-1 in the series), nothing is out of bounds. The Cavaliers would be wise to use every advantage available to them, including prodding Green when the opportunity presents itself with the hope he'll lose it one more time.
Ty Lue was right about playing at an extremely fast pace
After the Warriors had run the Cavaliers off the floor in the first two games of the NBA Finals, Ty Lue was insistent that his team would continue to play at a fast pace, despite the damaging results.
“We’re not going to change our game because of who we’re playing,” he said. “And I’m confident that we can play that way, and we did it last year. A lot of people said we couldn’t. But that’s our game. That’s who we are. And we’re not going to change just 'cause we’re playing Golden State.”
As it turned out, he was absolutely right.
Cleveland came close to beating the Warriors in Game 3 playing that way, and finally broke through in Game 4 with an 86-point first-half performance that put the team well on its way to its first win in the series.
The Warriors are beatable if everything goes just right
Heading into Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers had no idea if this Warriors team could in fact be beaten in the 2017 postseason. Golden State had barely broken a sweat in getting out to a 15-0 start in the playoffs, and had just taken Cleveland's best shot in Game 3, before ending the game on an 11-0 run to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After the Cavaliers shot the lights out in Game 4 and handed the Warriors their first loss of these playoffs -- a 137-116 thrashing that was never really close -- they now know that taking down (another) historically great Golden State team is at least a possibility.
That's an important mental barrier that the Cavaliers needed to overcome, and it could be the biggest factor in their quest to make history with an unprecedented comeback for a second straight season.
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