LeBron James and Matthew Dellavadova were too exhausted to work their magic in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, so it was up to center Timofey Mozgov to carry the load offensively for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Moz scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the 103-82 loss to the Golden State Warriors—the big fella had his way in the paint as the Dubs smartly elected to go with a small lineup.

Mozgov, despite his strong offensive showing, struggled mightily on the defensive end.

Per the Akron Beacon Journal:

Now the Cavs are right back on a plane for the West Coast. They’ll have an extra day off this time, but James was hinting at the possibility of extending the bench and giving guys more of a breather. James said prior to Game 2 he is comfortable playing 40-42 minutes in a 48-minute Finals game. This is the first game since Irving’s injury he fell in that range, but only because (David) Blatt conceded and pulled his starters for the final three minutes. Otherwise he’d have finished around 44 again. […] “That’s the coach’s decision if he decides he wants to go deeper in the bench,” James said. “We haven’t played many guys throughout this playoff run. I think it would help some of the guys that are playing high minutes for sure. Just give guys a couple minutes here, a couple minutes there.”

 

Steve Kerr’s decision to go small to start the game may have salvaged the Warriors’ season. Not only did it get their best player in this series (Andre Iguodala) on the court immediately, but it also caused major defensive problems for Timofey Mozgov. […] Mozgov clearly wasn’t comfortable playing so far away from the basket defensively and he was consistently late getting to the shooters. As a result, all five Warriors starters made a 3-pointer in the first half. Iguodala made four, as did Steph Curry. Harrison Barnes made some big shots, including a couple 3s, after he went scoreless and missed all eight of his shots in Game 3.

 

I asked Blatt prior to Game 3 why teams tend to go small late in games. Among other reasons, he said it was to get the best five players on the floor at the end of games regardless of position. And that’s exactly why the Warriors started Iguodala. […] It had every desired effect. Most importantly, it spaced the floor, quickened the pace and caused defensive problems for the Cavs.