#708 Cleveland Cavaliersvs.#707 Golden State Warriors
Written by Chris Kubala
Golden State Warriors (15-0 SU, 11-4 ATS, 11-4 O/U) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS, 11-5 O/U)
NBA: Friday, June 9, 2017, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, 9 pm ET
Line: Golden State -6; Over/Under: 228.5
It’s potentially the end of the line for the 2016-17 NBA season. The Golden State Warriors look to win their second title in three years and cap the first undefeated postseason in NBA history as they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night. Golden State rallied to win Game 3, 118-113, giving them 15 straight wins in the postseason. The Warriors have a 57-52 edge in the all-time regular season series: the team split two games this season, each winning at home. In the playoffs, Golden State has a 10-6 edge in head to head wins though each team has won one previous playoff series.
Golden State was tested but rallied in the fourth quarter to take the win and a commanding lead in the series. The Warriors led by seven after the first quarter and by six at halftime before trailing by five entering the fourth quarter. Golden State was down as many as seven in the final quarter and by six with 2:58 to play before closing the game on an 11-0 run. The Warriors shot 48.2 percent from the floor and knocked down 16 of 33 from beyond the arc. None were bigger than Kevin Durant’s three with 45.1 seconds to play that gave the Warriors an 114-113 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Durant led Golden State with 31 points plus eight rebounds: Klay Thompson chipped in 30 points and Stephen Curry had 26 plus 13 boards along with six dimes in the win.
The Warriors come into this one #1 among postseason teams in scoring with 118.9 points per game. Golden State stands 2nd in rebounding with 46.4 per contest. The Warriors are first in the playoffs by dishing out 28.5 assists a night. Golden State is decent defensively as they are 5th in scoring defense, allowing 102.5 points a night. Kevin Durant is the team’s second-leading scorer in the postseason, posting 27.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Stephen Curry adds a team-high 28.6 points plus 6.3 assists while Klay Thompson contributes 15.4 points a night. Draymond Green is chipping in with 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in the postseason. Zaza Pachulia, Andre Iguodala, David West and Shaun Livingston are key complementary pieces for the Warriors’ rotation. The Warriors are tied for first in the playoffs, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor as a team. Golden State is tied for 3rd with 12.7 triples a night while the team stands 3rd by sinking 39.6 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Cleveland has to be kicking themselves for letting Game 3 slip away. The Cavaliers held a six point edge with less than three minutes to play only to go scoreless the rest of the game. Cleveland went 0 for 8 with a turnover and three fouls in that stretch: two of the misses came on layups while five were three point attempts. The Cavaliers shot 44.4 percent from the floor but missed 32 of their 44 three point attempts in the game while losing the rebounding battle 44-37. LeBron James had 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the loss: he also was blocked on a potential game-tying three with 12 seconds to play and subsequently turned the ball over. Kyrie Irving had 38 points and J.R. Smith added 16: Kevin Love disappeared, hitting only 1 of 9 from the floor and finishing with nine points plus 13 rebounds.
The Cavaliers come into this contest 2nd in the playoffs in scoring offense with 114.7 points per game. Cleveland is 9th in rebounding with 42.4 per contest and 6th in assists by handing out 21.8 per game. The Cavaliers are 9th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 106.5 points per contest. LeBron James leads the team with 32.4 points plus 8.8 rebounds, 7.6 assists, two steals and 1.38 blocks a night. Kyrie Irving contributes 25 points plus 5.3 assists a game while Kevin Love puts up 17.1 points plus 11 rebounds per contest. The team would like to get more from Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Deron Williams and Tristan Thompson. Cleveland is 2nd in field goal percentage during the postseason by shooting 48.8 percent from the field and is 1st by knocking down 13.8 triples per contest. The Cavaliers are 2nd in three point shooting as they hit 40.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Cleveland just saw their best chance of making this a series slip away as the team failed to put up a single point in the last three minutes. The Cavaliers simply look fatigued: they’ve become overreliant on their Big Three and the bench players plus Smith and Thompson have failed to deliver much, if any, impact at all in their minutes on the floor. James is a great player but the talk of him being the greatest of all time has to take a back burner at this point. The Cavaliers’ hopes of back to back crowns takes a back seat as well as Golden State gets the nod here.
While there are those diehard Cleveland supporters who will point out that the Cavaliers got off the mat after trailing 3-1 last season to win the title, there are major differences between last year and this year. Golden State imported Durant, adding another elite player to a team that already had three great players in their lineup. Even if you considered Green, Thompson and Curry to be a wash with James, Irving and Love, the addition of Durant tipped the scales heavily toward Golden State. The Warriors have played the Finals at their tempo, something that Cleveland, while saying that the pace suited them, clearly hasn’t as the end of Game 3 showed when they had nothing left but fumes.
The over is 4-0 in the Warriors’ last 4 road games, 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 7-1 in their last eight overall. Cleveland has seen the over go 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record, 7-2 in their last 9 Friday games and 23-8 in their last 31 games following a straight up loss. The teams have gone over the total in five of their last seven meetings in Cleveland: this one doesn’t project to be any different. Look for another up tempo, high scoring affair that edges past the number.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.