CLEVELAND -- Veteran small forward Richard Jefferson has never been known as a pick-and-roll player, but when called upon to do so in an elimination game for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals, he did just that.
Jefferson used the pick and roll to his advantage on the way to eight points, three rebounds, one assist and a blocked shot in helping the Cavaliers to a 137-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena Friday night, which pushed the best-of-seven series back to Oracle Arena in Oakland tonight.
“Well, two days ago, to tell you the truth,” Jefferson said of when he became a good pick-and-roll player. “You have to pride yourself on being a basketball player. It’s rolling, trying to make the right play.
“I have great guys and great shooters on the floor, so it is my job just to roll and make sure that you make the right play. They’re not asking me to do too much in that situation, but it’s still something that it’s harder than you think, but having the teammates around makes it’s easier.”
Cleveland Cavaliers face off against Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of 2017 NBA Finals
Although never known as a player with pick-and-roll capabilities, Jefferson has been the picker/roller before, just never in a game of that magnitude, where a loss meant a four-game sweep and 16-0 postseason run from the Warriors.
“I have in situations, but not, obviously, not on a stage like this, where every decision that you’re making it that quick,” Jefferson said. “But that’s what this team does. Because they play small, they put you in that position to have to do stuff like that, and I’m fine with that.
“I think it’s also something that, like Bron is, he’s one of the best roll guys in the NBA, if you look at what he’s able to do, but they make it easy. All the reads are there. I just have to make the right one.”
In addition to being a pick-and-roll player, Jefferson was tasked with another key role in Game 4: defending Warriors small forward Kevin Durant.
Although Durant scored 35 points, his fourth straight 30-point game, he converted just nine of his 22 looks from the field and two of his nine three-point tries. Durant made 56 percent of his shots over the first three games of the series, but Jefferson helped the Cavaliers limit him to 40.9 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three-point range.
The 40.9 percent performance from the field was his lowest level of production in the postseason.
“I’ve guarded K.D. since he came into this league,” Jefferson said. “He’s one of the best talents that this league has seen. It’s the same with guarding LeBron. I had to do that. All the high-level small forwards, Carmelo. These are guys that are very different players, they’re all very unique talents, and so, you have your hands full when you get that opportunity to guard them.
“He’s going to score his points. There is no stopping K.D. There is no stopping LeBron or Steph or Kyrie. There’s no stopping any of them. It’s just trying to give them different looks that take away one or two possessions a game.”