The Golden State Warriors came to the Q in Cleveland on Friday night looking to wrap up a perfect 16-0 playoff run. They left having been punched in the mouth by the Cavaliers.
LeBron James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to maintain his triple-double average in the 2017 NBA Finals, and the Cavs staved off elimination in Game 4 with a 137-116 win.
Here are three things you missed on Friday while you were busy wondering just what in the world the referees were doing ...
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James had a plan from the very start of Game 4
The gaping maw of NBA criticism turned and bellowed at LeBron following Game 3, when he ruined civilization as we know it by passing the ball to Kyle Korver in the clutch.
LeBron responded in Game 4 by coming out and looking to get his teammates involved on the first half-dozen plays of the game. A couple of big shots from JR Smith ignited the Cleveland crowd, and the fans stayed hot through the final buzzer.
LeBron knew, you see. He knew that for the Cavaliers to stave off elimination, the rest of his teammates would have to show out. He knew the crowd had to be the difference. So he did everything he could to make sure everyone was involved.
That's why he's the King, and we're the peasants.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Kerr cost the Warriors a shot at closing out the Finals
LeBron James went to the bench twice on Friday night. Both times, the Golden State Warriors sent both Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to their own pine — which makes absolutely no sense.
The Cavaliers are dead in the water when LeBron's not on the court, and the Warriors have to take maximum advantage of Cleveland's atrocious reserve units. That means having either Curry or KD on the court to run the offense and narrow the gap.
When he takes them both out of the game, Kerr might think he's saving his stars to go toe-to-toe with a rested LeBron. He might think he's making the right move.
But he's not. Instead, he's costing Golden State a precious opportunity to put this series to bed.
David RichardDavid Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Cavaliers are figuring out how to exploit the Warriors' defense
Golden State has a simple solution to stopping its opponents: switch everything.
Standard pick-and-roll at the top of the key? Switch it! Off-ball screen to free up a shooter? Switch it! Big man rolling down the lane, looking to post up? Switch it!
Who cares about mismatches when your team is all arms and length? That's the logic for the Warriors, anyway, and it tends to serve them just fine.
Slowly but surely, the Cavaliers have started to find the hole in that philosophy, even with Kevin Durant leading Golden State's defensive charge. A defender can't keep his eye on both players at once — and the minute a Warrior is turning his head to go from one mark to the next, Cleveland is back-cutting to the rim, flaring out to the 3-point line, or otherwise taking advantage of that brief moment of confusion.
Whether the Cavs can keep it up for three more games remains to be seen. But for one night, everything clicked in Cleveland.
Now, the series is 3-1 — and if there's one thing the Cavs know, it's how to come back from a 3-1 deficit.