NBA Finals Game 4 Recap and Analysis: The Warriors Finally Step Up in the 4th


Game 4 was undoubtedly a must-win game for the Warriors, as they certainly did not want to be down 3-1 in the Finals to the Boston Celtics, who have never lost back-to-back games since they made their dramatic turnaround in the regular season. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so Steve Kerr finally made a significant adjustment to his usual rotation pattern: he started Otto Porter Jr. and benched Kevon Looney. Otto started over Looney most likely for more offense and mobility, but Otto's body and frame also matched up a bit better with the superstar Boston wings. Despite the switch in the starting lineup, the Warriors again got off to a slow start. The Warriors were missing shots and committing turnovers left and right, and Boston was scoring effectively, mostly through the services of Jayson Tatum. The lead was 11-4 Celtics at the 8-minute mark, but then Boston started being careless and had a couple of lazy turnovers, which the Warriors capitalized on. The Warriors' points off turnovers gave them a boost, and after a couple of Splash Brother and Wiggins threes, the Warriors tied the game 12 apiece. From that point on, it was a very close game, with both teams going tit-for-tat on threes, paint buckets, and even turnovers. Both teams had 5 turnovers in the first quarter alone, and at the end of the 1st, Boston led 28-27. 

Throughout the last couple of days, prominent media members such as Stephen A Smith and Kendrick Perkins implored Steve Kerr to make some adjustments, and in particular, they were asking for the explosive rookie Jonathan Kuminga to get some playing time. Though Kerr did make some adjustments to his rotations, Kuminga still did not get any clock as Kerr opted to stick with Bjelica. The coaches from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, which Steve Kerr is a part of, tend to never give rookies any significant time in high-pressure situations. The Warriors' superstar Steph Curry was carrying the offensive load for the Warriors, so once he got on the bench to rest, somebody had to step up and keep the Warriors' offense afloat. That person was Jordan Poole. He had two fantastic and big-time threes, and on the defensive end, the Warriors were playing great help defense and communicating very well. The catalyst for all this was Draymond Green, who had a poor scoring performance yet again but was fantastic defensively. However, despite the Warriors playing great defense, Jaylen Brown started to pick up his slack after a poor first-quarter showing. After Coach Udoka's timeout around the 9-minute mark as a result of Boston's stagnant offense and good Warriors' offense, Brown came out hitting two threes, while the Celtic defense was picking up. Around this time was when Steph came back into the game, and he still had not lost his touch. It is safe to say that the Warriors' offense was getting carried by Steph, while Poole and Wiggins were also helping him out. However, all of a sudden, around the 5-minute mark, the Warriors went cold, and their 3-pointers, including Steph's, was not falling. 3-point misses generally create long rebounds, and long rebounds essentially start fast-break opportunities. The Warriors call those misses "shot turnovers", and unfortunately, they had tons of them, causing Boston to go on a 10-0 run near the end of the first half. At the end of the first half, Boston led 54-49. Both teams had their superstars go off, both teams got quality production from their 6th man (White for the Celtics and Poole for the Warriors), and their rebounding statistics were almost identical, so it was clear that Boston only had the lead because of the Warriors' cold streak near the end of the half (for the half, they shot 40% overall and 29% from 3) and Boston's incredible interior defense (they had 4 blocks at the half while the Warriors had none). 

The third quarter had always been the Warriors' quarter, but at the beginning of the third, that did not seem like the case. Though the Warriors were still scoring, Boston was scoring as well, a lot from the paint area. Draymond's lack of scoring ability and willpower was clearly stagnating the Warriors' offense (relative to their previous third-quarter performances), and at the halfway point of the third, Boston still had a 5-point advantage. Then, after the mandatory timeout at the halfway point of the 3rd, the Warriors' offense turned it up a notch, almost exclusively led by Steph. For some reason, Boston's big men still continue to drop off of the Warriors' screens for Curry, allowing Steph to have some airspace to cash in some triples. Steph's masterpiece continued throughout the rest of the quarter, and he was scoring effortlessly and at will, despite Boston being statistically the #1 defense. The second half of Game 4's third quarter felt like the signature Warriors third quarters where their offense goes nuclear, and at the end of the third, the Warriors had a 1-point advantage over the Celtics, 79-78, but in just the third quarter, the Warriors outscored the Celtics by 6. It is key to note that when the Warriors' offense turned up in the second half of Game 4's third quarter, Draymond was sitting on the bench for almost the entire time. 

The Warriors have always struggled in the fourth in this Finals series, and in the first couple of minutes during the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Warriors were struggling again, while the Celtics, particularly Jaylen Brown, were playing extremely efficiently, and they were scoring in the paint at will. Derrick White also continued his fantastic game off the bench for the Celtics. Kerr noticed that the Warriors' offense was struggling to start the fourth, and they were down 4, so Steph entered at the 9-minute mark, which was quite early. However, putting Steph back in the game at an early time worked wonders for the Warriors, as he has not cooled off at all and continued his offensive masterpiece. His energy also spread to all the other Warriors players, as Wiggins was incredible on the offensive boards and putbacks, while Klay hit a very clutch three to give the Warriors a lead. Boston had been constantly attacking the paint on offense, but all of a sudden, they started to take a wild number of threes in the final few minutes of the fourth. The Warriors kept applying the pressure once they reclaimed the lead, and Steph's magic became too much for the Celtics to handle. Eventually, the Warriors won, 107-97, and the series is now tied heading back to Golden State. 

As the Warriors tie up the series, a good amount of credit has to be given to Steve Kerr. He knew that Draymond was having a poor offensive night, so he did not let Draymond back into the game until the 4-minute mark of the 4th. At one point, Draymond and Poole were literally subbing in and out for each other during continuous possessions, Poole for offense while Draymond for defense. It was until the 2-3 minute mark that Draymond consistently stayed in the game. Steve did not just blindly put his proven, experienced veterans into the game when it truly mattered (which is the fourth quarter), but rather he assessed who was playing well and who was not. Credit has to also go to Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins, who did the bulk of the dirty work in today's game. It was as if they took Boston's significant rebounding advantage in Game 3 personally and vowed to never let that happen again, as they combined for 27 rebounds. The extra possessions and putbacks that Wiggins and Looney got were invaluable, and there is a reason that those two men had the highest plus/minus out of everybody, including Steph. However, the main reasons for the Warriors' win are Steph Curry and Boston's epic collapse in clutch time. Steph truly had one of the greatest Finals performances of all time as he had 43 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 54% from the field and 50% from three. His back must be hurting from carrying the Warriors' offensive load in Game 4, and his foot injury did not seem to bother him one bit. On the other hand, Boston completely collapsed during the clutch, which is defined as the final 5 minutes of the game. In clutch time, the Warriors outscored the Celtics 17-3. Boston had been effectively driving into the paint and scoring there the entire game, yet in clutch time, they kept chucking up three-pointers but went 1-7. They had multiple turnovers during the clutch as well. Defenses, even the Celtics', will not stop Steph Curry when he is cooking like he was in Game 4, but it was honestly very shocking to see that the Celtics collapsed that badly on offense. The series is now tied 2-2, the Warriors have reclaimed its home-court advantage, and Steph Curry has silenced all the doubters saying he cannot perform in the Finals. 

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified