The reigning NBA Champions are on the brink of elimination. A narrow 104-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 now has the Golden State Warriors on the ropes.
Game 1 was won in nail-biting fashion. Then the two California teams traded haymakers in Games 2 and 3. Down 0-1, the Warriors responded in Game 2 with a 127-100 win in which they held Anthony Davis down to 11 points in 33 minutes. The purple and gold answered with a blow of their own, embarrassing the champions in a 127-97 trashing. Davis responded with a stellar performance, tallying 25 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocks.
After trading knockout blows, Monday night’s game was more of a high-paced chess match. It came down to which coach had more tricks up his sleeve.
Walker explodes in the Fourth
The answer is Darvin Ham, and the trick was Lonnie Walker IV, whose suffix can not be more well-fitting since that’s when he shined the brightest. His 15 points in the fourth quarter became the difference as the Lakers now hold their opponents by the collar.
The playoffs are proving grounds for role players and stars alike. While Walker introduced himself to the masses with a stellar performance, Anthony Davis and LeBron James left fingerprints on the victory as expected.
LeBron is no longer the guy who could drag a roster to the finish line, screaming and refusing to lose. With his age, we are starting to see him lean more toward the youth his teammates possess. However, the fact that he can still drop 27, nine, and six in a Playoff game is a true testament to his greatness. After all, he is a four-time champion and the all-time scoring leader of the league.
Davis is the X-factor for the Lakers. In the past three games, he has gone from cold to scorching and then lukewarm with 23 points and 15 rebounds. While those numbers are no easy task, everybody knows that Davis can do more when he’s in his bag. That’s what the Lakers need for them to close out the series.
After coming out of the play-in tournament, the Lakers are now favored to win the west and sit only behind the Boston Celtics in the title odds. For the LeBron faithful, there might be more room for the GOAT argument if he beats Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or Nikola Jokic, and the winner of the east on his way to his fifth title.
Can the Warriors bounce back?
Curry dropped a triple-double with 31 points, ten rebounds, and 14 assists. But while he worked his magic, his supporting cast worked their own by disappearing in Game 4. Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II– who got the nod to start– had solid shifts with 17 and 15 points, respectively. However, the remainder of the Warriors’ big three fell off the radar in a must-win situation.
Despite his ten rebounds and seven assists, Draymond Green only tallied eight points. The other half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson, was underwhelming with nine points.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ golden child, Jordan Poole’s playoff slump continues. After consecutive single-digit performances (six and five points), Poole failed to contribute to the scoreboard on Monday.
But we have seen this movie before. The last time these Warriors were down 3-1 in a series, they came back to win against Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Thunder. But that same year, they went up 3-1 against LeBron and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. We all know what happened next as LeBron and company pulled off the storybook comeback to win the title.
There is an opportunity for the Warriors to repeat and rewrite history with the situation they’re in.
I refuse to believe that the Warriors will be on the losing end of a gentleman’s sweep. Knowing them, they simply will not go down like that. I have already accepted that they will win Game 5 at home. However, the Lakers have LeBron James, a healthy Anthony Davis, the right supporting cast, genius coaching, and the weight of a fanbase that’s used to winning on their backs.
It is a now-or-never situation for both teams. While I lean towards the Lakers closing it out in six, I expect it to be a blockbuster until the curtain closes.