Tonight in Cleveland Ohio, the NBA Finals will resume. The Golden State Warriors hold a 2-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs blew away the Warriors by 30 points on Wednesday, after being blown out themselves in games 1 & 2.
For the Warriors, the mystery seems to be the health of guard Stephen Curry. Curry has had virtually no impact on the finals, and the only time he has looked like an MVP was the 17 points he had in second half of game 3.
Curry and Splash Brother Klay Thompson have combined to make a whopping 31 of 77 shots, and neither have scored 20 points in any game. Curry and Thompson average 30.1 and 22.1 respectively during the regular season. Thompson had been scorching hot during the playoffs, but both are struggling against the Cavs defense.
“Just think about the OKC series. We’re down 3-1, he hadn’t played well,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “Look what he did the last few games. So that’s Steph. That’s who he is. He always responds. He’s got a huge heart, competitive as hell, and extremely talented. I know how he will respond. He’ll play well. He always does.”
“Last night was a struggle,” Curry said Thursday. “Just, again, foul trouble and kind of dealing with that, but also not being as aggressive as I needed to be. I don’t know what the reason was for that, and it won’t be that in Game 4.”
Cavs on the other hand have some team issues of their own. No one watching can deny, the team played better, especially on defense without Kevin Love. Not to mention the Cavs still have little to no production from their bench. Love could be asked to contribute from a substitution role tonight. Either way, a 3-1 hole to the Warriors would be devastating for Cleveland.
We miss his rebounding. We miss his post presence. We miss his three-point shooting,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday. “So we definitely want him back, but he has to take the steps necessary to get himself back.
“We can’t afford to go down 3-1 and go into their building and give them confidence going back. So it’s a do-or-die game for us still,” LeBron James said Thursday.
Something to look for is how the Warriors will play JR Smith. Smith had a great defensive effort in game 3, but the effort came only after he took and made his shots. The Warriors could devise a scheme to deny him the ball, which will result in Smith giving less effort on defense.
Another thing to watch is how many minutes Richard Jefferson will play. Expect Love to start, but how long will Lue leave Jefferson on the bench? Jefferson played 33 minutes in game 3, but he hasn’t played those minutes all year.
Harrison Barnes has been a real force in the Finals, maybe the Warriors should give him a shot with the ball. If Curry and Thompson are still struggling, Barnes could be a matchup problem for Cleveland.
Cleveland 105-Golden State 103
Curry is hurt, and he won’t get much healthier in Cleveland. The Warriors are too comfortable with their lead, and they aren’t under the right amount of pressure to take this series seriously again. James will have another big night as well as Love, who will be looking to prove the doubters wrong.