LeBron James is a big reason the Lakers now have the Warriors on the brink of elimination.
He shot just 10-to-25 from the field in Game 4, but James finished the game with team-bests 27 points and six assists and nine rebounds. His performance helped the Lakers defeat the Warriors to take a 3-1 lead in the series, putting the defending champion one loss away from elimination.
James also made some key defensive moves in Game 4. You couldn’t tell by the box score — he had one block and zero steals — but he helped the Lakers seal the deal with a big stop on one of the last possessions.
You know what that means – to the movie room!
MORE: Who is Lonnie Walker IV? Meet the Lakers reserve who won Game 4
How LeBron James’ Basketball Genius Earned the Lakers Game 4 Victory
The Warriors are 15.0 seconds down on the Lakers 104-101 in Game 4.
Stephen Curry is responsible for throwing the ball in. The four other Warriors on the pitch are Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Moses Moody and Draymond Green.
Here’s how the Lakers played together:
- Dennis Schroeder on Stephen Curry
- Lonnie Walker IV via Klay Thompson
- Anthony Davis on Andrew Wiggins
- Austin reaves on Moses Moody
- LeBron James on Draymond Green
Curry plays the ball to Green after receiving a screen from Thompson. Meanwhile, Moody cleans up by running the baseline from left corner to right corner.
Instead of slogging through Thompson’s screen, James tells Walker to turn green.
Curry runs towards Green as if the two are about to make a handoff, but Green catches the ball. The Lakers switch action again, leaving Walker on Curry and Schroder on green.
Once again, James gives his teammate heads up by telling them to switch.
As Green nears the paint, he picks up his dribbling and jumps to make a pass. The problem? The pass he wants to make is unavailable because the 6ft 10 Davis is draped all over Thompson’s corner.
Green finally passed the ball to Davis, marking his fifth turnover of the game. He combined for just two turnovers in Games 1-3.
Why it matters
as excellent Gibson Pyper from Half Court Hoops As pointed out after the game, this isn’t the first time the Warriors have gone to this game after a close game.
It’s a version of the “hammer” track that made Gregg Popovich and the Spurs famous in the NBA. The idea is to get the ball handler to attack the defense downhill while swapping a screen on the opposite side of the field to clear a corner shooter. Most of the time the defense is so focused on the ball that they lose sight of the shooter, even one as deadly as Thompson.
Here are a few examples of how the Warriors are getting good shots from the out:
It’s clear James knew the Warriors were going to tackle it because he watched the entire game. He told both Walker and Davis where to go, and he followed Green the whole time, knowing he wanted to kick the ball out for a 3-point shot, not drive to the basket for a layup.
You can see how engaged James was just watching him:
Had James Davis not told him to switch when he did, Thompson would likely have opened up.
James making a great defensive play is nothing new. He was selected to the All-Defensive Team a total of six times in his career and will tell you he should have been Defensive Player of the Year at least once. His engine doesn’t rev as high as it used to – no surprise for a 38-year-old in his 20th season – but he’s still able to initiate stops when it counts.
While the box score doesn’t suggest James had anything to do with it, Green’s turnover at the end of Game 4 is one of many examples of the heights his basketball genius continues to reach.