Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith (5) shoots over Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) during the first half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers are still alive … and down 3-1 again. For the fourth straight time over the last two postseasons, the Cavs kept the Golden State Warriors from celebrating another championship.
This time, they did it with an unbelievable offensive performance, scoring a Finals-record 49 points in the first quarter and never letting up. Their 137-116 victory in game four of The Finals takes the series back to Oakland for game five on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) with the Warriors up 3-1.
As it has always been against Golden State, the stars led the way for Cleveland. LeBron James (31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists) recorded the seventh Finals triple-double of his career, while Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting.
One stat stood out as the Cavs handed the Warriors their first loss of the 2017 postseason.
Game 3 basics
Pace: About 99.7 possessions per team per 48 minutes
OffRtg: 117.4 points scored per 100 possessions
OffRtg: 136.1 points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
24 — three-pointers made by the Cavs in game four, a Finals record.
Shooting is the most important thing in basketball. Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Cavs had the highest effective field goal percentage (59.8 percent) in postseason history. They shot 43.5 percent from three-point range in rolling through Indiana, Toronto and Boston with a 12-1 record. On uncontested threes, they shot 46.4 percent, according to SportVU.
But they were shooting just 26 percent on uncontested three’s through the first three games of The Finals. In game three on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), the Cavs took 30 uncontested three-pointers and made only seven of them. They had other issues, but it’s a make-or-miss league and if one more of those goes in (like Kyle Korver’s shot from the left corner with less than a minute to go), they would have been playing to tie the series in game four.
Instead, they were playing just to stay alive. And with their season on the line, they made seven more threes than any other team had made in a Finals game. Their 28 made shots from outside the paint were 11 more than they made in any of the first three games (15, 15 and 17).
Irving (7-for-12), Kevin Love (6-for-8) and J.R. Smith (5-for-9) combined to shoot 18-for-29 from beyond the arc as Cleveland racked up an effective field goal percentage of 66.7 percent, tied for the third highest single-game mark in this postseason. The Cavs also have each of the other three marks in the top four.
This was the first time in this series that they looked like the team that stormed through the first three rounds. They made the Warriors look like the Atlanta Hawks, the team against which the Cavs set both the regular season and postseason record for most three’s in a game. Both records stand at 25, one more than Cleveland hit on Friday (Saturday, PHL time).
And they’re still holding the mark for the highest effective field goal percentage in postseason history (57.7 percent).
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