Golden State Warriors (-3) at Cleveland Cavaliers (194 o/u)
After a 96-91 Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers are two wins away from ending a 51-year title drought in their city. If they do, the city will likely change its name to Lebron-ville… or James-town? (I dunno, they’ll figure that out later.)
The point is this: while championship would be enjoyed by the whole city, it would almost entirely be the fruits of one man’s labor. Lebron carried the team once again with a behemoth 40-point, 12-rebound, and eight-assist night in Game 3.
It’s a little disingenuous to say LeBron did it all on his own, though. He received a nice helping hand from new sidekick Matthew Dellavedova, who added 20 points and brought a scrappy effort on defense, despite forgetting that water is an important thing to drink during games. (Crazy Aussies!)
“Delly” should be good to go for tonight (9:00 PM Eastern at Quicken Loans Arena) as the Cavs will try to take a 3-1 series lead back to Oakland.
For Golden State, avoiding a 3-1 series deficit will be all-important; the last team to go down 3-1 in the Finals and win the series was … no one. No team has ever done it.
If they’re going to get back on even terms, the Warriors will need to increase their hustle.
Warriors forward Draymond Green summed up the teams’ respective efforts so far at yesterday’s shoot around.
“They are playing like a team desperate and needs something,” Green told Yahoo’s Marc Spears. “And we are playing like a team that’s not desperate and got something.”
The Warriors do, indeed, “got something;” they have the league’s best offense – at least they did in the regular season. So far this series, they’ve been stymied – particularly from beyond the arc – by a tight Cleveland D. Golden State shot almost 40-percent from three in the regular season, but are hitting at just 31-percent in the Finals.
Collectively, most of the Warriors starters were terrible in Game 3, from Green’s early foul trouble, to Harrison Barnes’ 0-8 night, to Steph Curry’s six turnovers.
Perhaps the only positive this team can take from Game 3 was the late effort by Curry. The NBA MVP has struggled with Dellavedova covering him, but he rallied the team down the stretch and finished with 27 points (including 24 in the second half). The team will be hoping that Curry’s hot shooting carries forward to Game 4, and infects the rest of his teammates.
Betting-wise, this is a desperate Golden State group with too much talent to play the way they’ve been playing. With their metaphorical backs against the wall, I expect this team to respond and give us a series again. Hopefully Lebron doesn’t make me choke on those words.
Pick: Warriors (-3)
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (20090930-6029) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)