NBA Finals Game Four: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

2015 NBA Playoffs
NBA Finals Game #4
#1 Golden State Warriors at #2 Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavaliers Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Thursday, June 1, 2015, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Opening Line: Golden State -2 1/2

Current Line: Golden State -3
Opening Total: 193
Current Total: 193
Opening Money Line: Warriors -140 / Cavaliers +120
Current Money Line: Warriors -145 / Cavaliers +125

The Warriors look to even the NBA Finals in game four Thursday night.
The Warriors look to even the NBA Finals in game four Thursday night.

Despite being without two all-star starters, forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers are two wins away from their first NBA championship. This is due to the superhuman efforts of LeBron James in the first three games. He is averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists in the Finals and has more points through three games than any other player in NBA Finals history.

Although this series is far from over, few people outside of the most hard core Cavs fans thought Cleveland would even be in this position. The Golden State Warriors can take solace in the fact that in the five series in the playoffs this season that were tied 1-1, the winner of game three has gone on to lose the series each time. Golden State looks to even the series at 2-2 in game four Thursday night.

Golden State went 67-15 and had the best record in basketball. They won the Pacific Division by 11 games over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors swept the #8 seed New Orleans Pelicans in the first round, and then beat the #5 seed Memphis Grizzlies in six games despite trailing 2-1 in the second round series. In the Western Conference Finals, Golden State beat the #2 seed Houston Rockets in five games. Golden State is in the NBA Finals for the first time since winning the championship in 1975.

Cleveland went 53-29 and won the Central Division by three games over the Chicago Bulls. The Cavaliers were the #2 seed in the East, and swept the #7 seed Boston Celtics in the first round. Cleveland trailed 2-1 in the second round series against the #3 seed Bulls, but the Cavaliers won the series in six games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Cleveland swept the #1 seed Atlanta Hawks. The Cavaliers are back in the Finals for the second time and first since 2007. No Cleveland sports franchise has won a title in any sport since the Browns in 1964.

Golden State is coached by Steve Kerr. The Warriors are 55-44-1 ATS and the total is 44-56-1 this season. Golden State was a 2 point favorite in game three and the total was 194.5.Cleveland is coached by David Blatt. The Cavaliers are 49-50 ATS and the total is 40-58-1 this season.

Golden State trailed by 14 early in game one but rallied to win 108-100 in overtime. In overtime of that game Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving suffered a fractured knee cap that required surgery. He is out 3-4 months. This comes on the heels of the Cavaliers losing forward Kevin Love for the playoffs to a dislocated shoulder in the first round against the Celtics. Despite being without two all-stars starters, Cleveland survived game two and escaped with a 95-93 overtime win. It was only the fourth loss at home for the Warriors this season in the regular season and playoffs in 51 games.

The series shifted to Cleveland for game three Tuesday night. While LeBron has been incredible in this series, his counterpart on the Warriors, league MVP Stephen Curry has looked dreadful at times. He was 4/11 from the field in the first three quarters of game three with only 10 points. Cleveland would take a seven point lead  into halftime. The Cavaliers would lead by as many as 20 points in the third, but the lead would be 17 going into the fourth.

Golden State opened the fourth on a 13-2 run to get back into the game and trailed by six. Curry finally started to heat up and made five three pointers in the quarter and scored 17 points. Cleveland would maintain the lead, and actually led 92-83 with 51 seconds left. Curry hit a couple of incredible three pointers including one with 18 seconds left that pulled the Warriors to within 94-91 with 18 seconds left. On the next possession, Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova and Golden State guard Klay Thompson were fighting for possession of the ball. The originally called it out on Dellavedova, but replays showed Thompson had a foot out of bounds when he touched it. Cleveland retained possession and James made two free throws to make it 96-91. Warriors guard Andre Iguodala missed a three pointer with five seconds left but appeared to be fouled, although the refs didn’t call it. Cleveland held on for the five point win to take a 2-1 series lead.

James had 40 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Dellavedova has become a folk hero in Cleveland after he started in place of Irving from game two on. The Australian in his second year had 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in game three. He was admitted to a Cleveland hospital after the game for severe cramping and dehydration. He did practice yesterday and is listed as probable for game four. Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 13 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 10 points off the bench and added 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Iman Shumpert scored only 3 points, but did add 3 rebounds and 3 steals. He suffered a bruised shoulder in the first, but is listed as probable for game four. It was the same shoulder that cost him six weeks during the regular season in December and January.

Curry finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Iguodala had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench. Thompson had 14 points, and 5 rebounds. Despite being the highest paid player on the roster, former All-Star forward David Lee has spent most of the playoffs on the bench, appearing in just 10 games and averaging 8 minutes a game. Lee scored 11 points and added 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 13 minutes off the bench. The starting front court of Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut combined for 11 points in game three. Green is probable with a back injury.

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Cleveland is outscoring teams 101-93 in the playoffs. The Cavaliers are shooting 43.6% from the field and 35.9% from 3 point range. Cleveland makes 75.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.2% from the field and 28.1% from 3 point range. Cleveland averages 46.9 rebounds per game and opponents averages 40.4 per game. The Cavaliers average 18.9 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 5.8 steals and 6.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 18.9 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

The Cavaliers are banged up and certainly aren’t at full strength. LeBron James is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in the playoffs. Kyrie Irving averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Kevin Love is out for the playoffs after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the first round against the Celtics. J.R. Smith averages 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Iman Shumpert averages 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game. Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones will also get minutes in the rotation. Anderson Varejao is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

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Golden State is outscoring teams 104-96 in the playoffs. Golden State is shooting 46% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Warriors are shooting 70.3% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 43.1% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. Golden State averages 46.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.2 per game. The Warriors average 25.1 assists, 15.3 turnovers, 8 steals and 6.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.5 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 8.9 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

Guard Stephen Curry averages 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He was named league MVP earlier in the playoffs. Klay Thompson averages 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He suffered a concussion in game five against the Rockets, but passed all the concussion protocols and is probable for game one. Draymond Green averages 14 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.  Harrison Barnes averages 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Marreese Speights returned in game one after missing 8 games with a calf injury. Other key players in the rotation include David Lee, Andre Igoudala, Leandro Barbosa, Andrew Bogut and Shaun Livingston.

Golden State is 5-2 ATS against Eastern Conference teams, 2-5 in Thursday games, and 2-7 against Central division teams. Five of the last six games in this series have gone under the total.

Cleveland is 5-1 in Thursday games, 15-3 against Western Conference teams, 8-2 against Pacific Division teams, 4-1 on one day rest, 6-2 against teams with winning records, and overall, and 5-2 after a straight up win. The home team is 4-1 ATS in this series. The Cavaliers are 5-2 ATS at home against the Warriors recently.

Although Cleveland has been by far the most physical team, you wonder how long they can keep this up. They are using a seven man rotation, and fatigue has to be setting in. Golden State has had big rallies in the fourth quarter of all three games. Despite the brilliant play of James, Cleveland has barely won each of the last two games. I think Golden State plays with desperation and ties the series in game four.

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