Battle of Bigs Disappoints, Can DeMarcus Cousins Bounce Back in Game 5?

TORONTO -- The battle of the bigs could have been epic. DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol - two former All-Stars facing off, both in search of their first championship ring.

Four games into the 2019 NBA Finals and the matchup has fizzled.

Battling back from a gruesome quad injury, Cousins has shown flashes, especially in Game 2, but he's nowhere near 100 percent.

"These are the cards I was dealt, so just make the best of the situation, that's all you really can do," Cousins said during his media availability on Sunday.

Cousins is averaging 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 17.5 minutes per game. He's shooting just 30.4 percent from the field during then series and he's turned the ball over 10 times over the last three games.

"You don't analyze that as a player," Gasol said when asked about Cousins' health. "It's a different scenario, different role, situation. You have so many other important things to do and to prepare for than to analyze his health or another player physically."

Gasol has done his part in the series. He's anchored the Raptor defense and averaged 13 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 28.8 minutes per game.

While Gasol isn't going to comment on his counterpart, it's clear the Warriors' big man is having trouble getting off the floor as he fights back from injury. Never a huge leaper to start, the 6-foot-11 center uses his lift to power through opponents.

Without the ability to push through, Cousins is struggling to create space and finish around the rim. His jumper lacks it's typical range as well.

It's a balancing act for Golden State head coach Steve Kerr. He wants to get Cousins reacclimated to the lineup, but at the same time, the margin for error is gone. Down 3-1, he has to make difficult decisions about playing time and live with the results.

"We just look at everything game to game in terms of matchups, combinations," coach Steve Kerr said when asked about Cousins. "One of the things that's been a bit of a struggle with the injuries is just finding the right combinations in terms of the numbers that we have and how many minutes guys are playing. We're just trying to find patterns that can help everybody who is out on the floor and go from there."

There is hope that if the series can extend out, Cousins, as well as Kevin Durant and a few other injured Warriors players, can get healthier and provide more production, but the clock is ticking on their season.

As of now, the Warriors hopes of a 3-Peat and Cousins' dreams of winning a first title are hanging by a thread.

"It's a little weird to be the underdog now, but we'll roll with the punches and we'll come out playing as hard as we can and see what happens," Cousins said.

Facing elimination and with a hostile crowd expected in Toronto, the Warriors need all hands on deck. They also need production from every player that steps on the court.

Expect Kerr to have a quick hook in Game 5 if Cousins or any other player can't provide the goods.

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