The Cleveland Cavaliers lived to fight another day — with the help of the officials.
That was one of the biggest reactions to Cleveland's Game 4 win over the Golden State Warriors, a game that featured far too many whistles and a poor performance from a two-time MVP.
Less than 24 hours after the Cavaliers' Friday night win, we've rounded up our four favorite overreactions to Game 4, plus a quick breakdown of how accurate that take might be. Here's hoping these piping-hot perspectives will get you through a weekend without basketball; Game 5 is Monday night.
Seriously though, the officials were bad in Game 4. There's no getting past that. The whole Draymond Green situation was an absolute mess, but beyond the technical foul confusion, the officials still lost control of this game.
I don't believe that's entirely on them, however. The Cavaliers were physical and aggressive on both ends of the court Friday night, and the smaller Warriors often had no recourse but to grab a bigger Cleveland player blowing by for a layup.
Unfortunately, those whistles didn't always go both ways, as the Cavs were equally physical on defense. Things were especially bad in the first half, when the Cavs built an insurmountable lead by drawing multiple fouls on multiple Warriors stars.
No matter who you root for or how you felt about the calls, one thing was certain on Friday: The officiating detracted from an otherwise enjoyable Game 4.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant choked in a potential closeout game
Looking at a box score to see that a player scored just 14 points on 4-for-13 shooting like Curry did on Friday night will tell you part of the story, but it's never enough. You have to watch the games — and if you watched on Friday night, you saw the Cleveland Cavaliers go out of their way to take both Curry and KD out of the contest.
The Cavs went so far as to abandon any notion of guarding Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala, daring those two to be the difference.
Instead, Cleveland wants to use that extra man to send a soft double-team at either Warriors superstar before they even catch the ball, just as teams so often attempt the same thing against LeBron.
Stars have to find a way to overcome those tactical shifts; that's why people have given LeBron such a hard time in his career. On the other hand, it's worth acknowledging how the Cavs affected an off night from Curry.
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Love > Draymond Green
Here are Love's and Green's box score lines through four games of the 2017 NBA Finals:
Love: 18.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.0 blocks per game
Green: 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 blocks per game
Yes, Love is outscoring and outrebounding his Warriors counterpart. He's even outplaying Green on defense during some stretches of this series, which is something no one on any planet — flat or spheroid — ever expected.
Let's slow down on proclaiming Love as a better player in a vacuum, however, as some did on Twitter on Friday night. The Warriors are focusing their attention on LeBron and Irving, freeing Love to operate as a safety valve for Cleveland's offense, just as the Cavs intended.
He's playing the role to perfection so far, and we have to appreciate his defensive improvement. He's just not better than Green when the games matter most.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers will win this series
It can't happen, right?
No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit in any round of the postseason. The Golden State Warriors haven't lost four straight games since 2013. The Cavaliers have to win two games in Oakland while holding serve one more time in Cleveland.