For the Warriors, last night was, for all intents and purposes, do or die. The Warriors did, and they did it their way.
Finally, the real Warriors stood up. And they ran. They ran and they passed and they shot and they dunked and destroyed the Cavaliers and they smiled while doing so. The Warriors won 103-82, evened the series at two games a piece, and they're coming home to the friendly confines of the Roaracle having rediscovered who they were and how they play.
For three games, we've wondered who those guys in those Warriors uniforms were. They didn't shoot like our Warriors, they didn't play defense like our Warriors, they didn't pass or run or score like our Warriors. They squeaked by in Game 1 and got ground down in Games 2 and 3 by an inferior Cavaliers team. It was maddening.
But something happened in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Though the Dubs ultimately came up short, they dominated the final quarter, scoring 36 to the Cavs 24, and, at one point, coming within 1 point of completely erasing what had been a 20-point Cavs lead. David Lee, coming off the bench and playing his first minutes of the Finals, provided a new wrinkle for the Warriors. Lee enabled the Warriors to run up and down the court, playing to their own strength and exploiting the exhausted Cavs. It was just too little a bit too late, but the Warriors coaches saw something they could work with.
And the legend of Nick U'Ren is born. Nick is a 28-year old special assistant on the Warriors coaching staff. He's one of the dudes you see in a suit sitting in the row behind the players and the primary coaching staff. Nick spent his night before the game watching film of the 2014 NBA Finals in which the San Antonio Spurs spanked the LeBron James led Miami Heat. He saw the Spurs play small and spread the court. He sent a text to assistant coach Luke Walton at 3 a.m.. The next morning, the coached chewed on it over breakfast. Hours later, the Warriors had a new starting five, with Iggy in and Bogut out.
Nick U'Ren, you did good. Iggy, you did better.
Andre Iguodala had started every game he's ever played in. He's been the centerpiece of his teams for the entirety of his career. Until this year. Steve Kerr comes in as the new coach and asked Iggy to sit the bench. To play limited minutes, guiding the second squad when the younger starters needed to rest.
Iggy could have said no. He could have divided the locker room, gone to the media, and put the kibosh on Kerr's experiment. But Iggy bought in and he played his new position. It worked. The Warriors became the best version of themselves this year and made their way into the Finals. Then it inexplicably stopped working.
Then Nick U'Ren remembered Iggy. And Steve Kerr asked Iggy to stand up. And Iggy did. And Iggy scored 22 on 8-of-15 shooting, including four 3s. Iggy pulled down 8 rebounds. Iggy allowed the Warriors to finally start double-teaming LeBron, who was neutralized last night. Iggy trolling LeBron was icing.
- After a hard, but clean, Andrew Bogut foul, LeBron James fell head-first onto a camera, cutting LeBron's head. It was a scary moment, and thank goodness LeBron didn't get seriously injured. If he did get hurt, it would have been a disaster for Cleveland and all the talk would have been about how foolish LeBron was for causing his own injury by needlessly flopping into the camera, because that's exactly what he did.
- Speaking of LeBron's head, did you see his dick on TV? Because LeBron's dick was totally on TV.
- During a game in 2007, Shaun Livingston's leg was injured in a way, that if you watched it happen, you puked. He was advised that the leg may need to be amputated. Eight years later, Livingston played 24 minutes of an NBA final, resulting in a +27 while he was on the court. Shaun Livingston, I have no idea how you do what you do, but thank God you're doing it in a Warriors uniform.
- Matthew Dellavedova. The kryptonite to Steph's Superman. The Scottie Pippen to LeBron's MJ. The guy they're naming an arena after. Well, he's been assayed and it turns out he's fool's gold.
NBA Finals: Series tied, 2-2
Game 1: Golden State 108, Cleveland 100
Game 2: Cleveland 95, Golden State 93
Game 3: Cleveland 96, Golden State 91
Game 4: Golden State 103, Cleveland 82
Game 5: June 14, at Golden State, 5PM (ABC)
Game 6: June 16, at Cleveland, 6PM (ABC)
Game 7: June 19, at Golden State, 6PM (ABC)