Warriors lead 3-0
Golden State at Cleveland
Time: 8 PM CT (ABC/ESPN)
Spread: GSW -4
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors have had few problems with the Cleveland Cavaliers after needing a full seven-game series to defeat the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. The anticlimactic NBA Finals can end tonight with a Dubs’ win, and NBA oddsmakers expect nothing less in setting the line 4-points in favor of the visiting Warriors. LeBron James and company hope to extend the series back to a Game 5 in Oakland but down 3-0 the historical chances of Cleveland winning this series sit at 0 percent. That is to say, no team has ever overcome a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series.
Then again, the first team to overcome a 1-3 deficit was none other than the LBJ-led Cavaliers of two seasons ago. With James on the court, it is difficult to ever fully cross the Cavaliers off the list, but tonight can definitively do just that.
While Game 2 was a Stephen Curry show, Game 3 saw Kevin Durant take the reigns and lead the Dubs to an overwhelming victory. Durant finished with 43 points on 15 of 23 shooting, while also snagging 13 rebounds and dishing seven assists. All Warriors starters finished in double-figures, but Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry were a combined 7 of 27 from the field and just 3 of 15 from three-point range.
The fact that Golden State won with its backcourt shooting just over 25 percent from the field illustrates just how tough it is to defeat this team. Draymond Green had just two rebounds, and the Warriors were out-rebounded by a 10 board margin, but it hardly mattered, not with how effective the Warriors defense was, not with how unstoppable Durant was for his 43 minutes of court time.
Game 3 did see one major change for the Cavaliers, and that was that the long-needed help for James offensively arrived in form of Rodney Hood. Hood scored his playoff-high of 15 points while also grabbing six boards. J.R. Smith shot just 5 of 14 but still finished with 13 points to complement Kevin Love’s efficient 20 point, 13 rebound game.
But still, more help is needed for Cleveland. Look no further than George Hill’s inconsistencies and Kyle Korver’s sheer disappearance for sources of that help. Korver played just 11 minutes and missed all four of his field goal attempts, while scarcely impacting the game in any other way.
A former All-Star on a team’s bench should be able to provide more help than that, but Tyronn Lue has been so reticent about turning to his reserves, and with good reason. Outside of Hood’s 7 of 11 shooting night, it has provided precious little in a series that has mostly been given the narrative that “James needs more help,” and “LeBron is playing with his worst team in his career.”
That may be true on paper, but with solid reserves that are not being given minutes, is it even fair to deride their stifled efforts? James may head elsewhere as a free agent this offseason, and he likely will, but a part of us cannot help but wonder if Cleveland was never given its fair chance to succeed with one of the worst coaches in the Association in Mr. Lue.
Albeit some insist James has been coaching this team all along, but that only shifts the blame in having benched some decent talents that could have potentially made the difference, or at least a difference, in this series.
Instead, the Warriors are on the verge of completing its third NBA title in four seasons, and predictability is running at an all-time high. The only real intrigue for NBA fans this offseason is seeing which team James joins forces with to make the NBA’s next contending squad; although, whichever team it ends up becoming, will probably have to still jostle with this Warriors team for any share of the respect.
Beyond that, can the addition of James to any current contender bolster it enough to beat the Dubs? We have just witnessed the latest greatest dynasty, and it might take some serious alteration to the Warriors themselves, to put any halt to it.