MAITHYA: Series on and Cleveland can get out of jail?

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By FIDEL MAITHYA
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It started off innocuously enough with a night out at the movies. That time of year when Hollywood blockbusters come at you fast, quicker than the Warriors seven-second transition offence.

But I digress. As per usual the dinner comes first, that is if there’s enough time before the trailers start playing.

We were cutting it a bit close by ordering hot spicy grilled chicken with 35 minutes to spare – more than enough time right? Wrong!

The nice lady serving us communicated that it would take 10 minutes tops for the order to be ready but as it turned out it was 10 minutes in dog years.

Eventually we had to settle for takeaways because inhaling hot spicy wings is not exactly my cup of herbal tea.

What I’m trying to illustrate is the fact that time waits for no man, let alone team. The 2017 NBA finals have certainly proved that and beyond so showed the value of numbers in the modern game of basketball.

Game 4 started off with the Cavs trailing 0-3, a terrain that no team has ever climbed off in a final. When I say most, I mean just that. The closest to that came in 1951 when the New York Knicks came back from a 0-3 deficit to force a Game Seven in a losing effort to the Rochester Royals. To their credit however, the defending champions came back from a 1-3 deficit last season to win it all, a feat never accomplished before.

If there’s any team that can do it, it certainly is them and they showed that early on in the first quarter of Game Four leading by 16 points at one point. But one statistic that clearly jumped off the page was 12 fouls committed by the Warriors in the first quarter leading to 22 attempted free-throws by the Cavs ultimately pushing the home team to 49 points in the period, the most scored in a quarter in the finals.

By half time the Cavs punched in a statistic that has not been seen in any NBA final, scoring 86 points, the most in league history.

This was helped in part by them taking 25 free throws while also riding the hot hand of Kyrie Irving who finished the first period with 28 points while shooting 78 per cent from the field and 66 per cent from the three point line.

The free throw disparity seemed to cut at the heart of the Warriors defence affecting them on their rotations as well as contests.

At some point in the waning seconds of the first half, Kevin Love made a left corner three with Durant cagey on the challenge perhaps wary of the quick whistles.

The second half carried off from where it left off with the Cavs not easing their foot from the gas, setting another record this time scoring 19 three-pointers, 24 on the night.

Game Five moves to Oakland where the Warriors will look to close out the series and forever banish the memories of last season’s epic collapse.

For them to do so however they might want to see what went right for the Cavs in this game.

It seemed that with every run the Warriors were making, their hosts had an answer to it. Though the issue of rest versus desperation reared its head again.

Game 3 saw James resting for 2 minutes at some point in the 4th leading to Golden State making a 12-0 run. In Game 4 at the start of the 4th James was on the bench for a minute leading to 6-0 run by the Warriors.

Ultimately, conversations will be had about the disparity in fouls called but what people should be talking about is how Kyrie Irving put on a show scoring 40 points, going 7-for-12 for 58 per cent and 55 per cent from the field, doing so by going to the free throw line only 4 times.

Warriors, who are known for their 3-point proficiency, shot only 28% going 11-for-39. It’s not as if they were taking bad shots, they just looked uncharacteristically tired. Stephen Curry, who is their leader in that department, fell off from his Game 3 performance scoring only 14 points going 2-for-9 from deep.

Part of the Warriors struggle came from a very desperate defensive effort from the Cavs who looked to trap him or Durant from the onset. The roles were reversed this time round and it needed their bench to come up big of which they didn’t.

Game 5 now moves to the Oracle Arena where the Warriors will look to close out the series and forever banish the memories of last season’s epic collapse.

rn rn

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