Before they arrived at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors spent roughly 45 hours stewing over their predicament in the N.B.A. finals. Choose an adjective, any adjective: upset, frustrated, angry or perhaps several others not suitable for print. The Warriors were mad, and Andre Iguodala went so far as to express displeasure that he even had to show up at the arena on Wednesday for news media responsibilities. When they took the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers for Game 4, the Warriors looked determined to even things up by playing with greater energy. But they also leaned heavily on tactics, opting for speed over size in hopes of jarring the series loose from its languid pace.
Iguodala, who started for the first time all season, had a lot to do with that. The game was not always pretty — these two teams are grappling for space on every possession — but the Warriors unearthed more than enough offense for a 103-82 victory, tying the series at two games each. Game 5 will be in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday. “We needed a change,” said Steve Kerr, the coach of the Warriors. “We needed to shift the tempo, and that’s why we did it.” Iguodala, the team’s best player in the series, according to Kerr, infused Golden State with energy and quickness, finishing with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Stephen Curry also had 22 points for the Warriors, who shot 46.8 percent from the field and played smothering defense. The Cavaliers were 4 of 27 from the 3-point line.
“We didn’t make shots,” said David Blatt, the coach of the Cavaliers. Fans began to funnel toward the exits midway through the fourth quarter, a deflating outcome with the Cavaliers still two wins from their first championship. LeBron James, who had been so extraordinary for Cleveland through the first three games of the series, finished with 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting. Defended by Iguodala for much of the game, James hit the floor more than once, with varying degrees of severity. “You just try to take him out of his comfort zone,” Iguodala said. “It sounds easier said than done.”
The Cavaliers were trailing by 12 when the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut fouled James on a baseline drive. After tumbling headfirst into a large camera along the baseline, James remained on the court, cradling his bleeding head as teammates gathered around him. He remained in the game, not that his night improved much. “I was just trying to regain my composure,” James said. “I was just hoping I wasn’t bleeding, but obviously the camera cut me pretty bad.” Without the injured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to help ease his scoring burden, James was again left to try to do the superhuman for Cleveland. But his familiar burst was lacking, Matthew Dellavedova and J. R. Smith combined to shoot 5 of 26, and the team’s game operations staff seemed to sense doom before halftime.“We have no reason to panic whatsoever!” came the cry over the arena’s speakers. Except they did. The series has turned into a psychological test.
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