Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors, Monday, June 15, 10am AEST, ESPN
LADIES and gentlemen, we have a series.
The Golden State Warriors ($1.24 with WilliamHill.com.au) finally snapped out of their shooting funk to register a good old fashioned hammering on the road in Cleveland ($4.55 with CrownBet.com.au), 103-82, that evened up the NBA Finals series at 2-2.
Both sides have nabbed a game on each others’ home court, so this game effectively comes down to a three game series.
And the Warriors hold the home floor ascendency with game five on the Oracle Arena floor.
After slow starts in the first three games, coach Steve Kerr master minded the turn around from the start, benching big Aussie centre Andrew Bogut in favour of versatile swing man Andre Iguodala.
It proved a dynamic move, Iggy doing it all with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to go with his four three pointers.
But it was his defence on a clearly tired and banged up Lebron James that might have been his most important contribution.
Coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala had been the Warriors best player in the series so far and credited him for James 7-22 performance.
“I didn’t think Andre guarded him any differently than he did the first three games,” Kerr said.
“It’s a different game.
“LeBron’s shots didn’t go in.
“The same shots may go in next game.
Lebron has been a monster in the first three games, but playing monster minutes and initiating just about every play catches up on even the greats and, while he still had a near triple double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, the Cavs need him to score at least 40 for them to get close.
He was averaging 41 through the first three games.
The King wasn’t helped when he took a tumble on the baseline after a Bogut foul, landing court side after banging his head on a camera in the second quarter.
He rolled around like a soccer player who had been shot by a sniper in the crowd – kind of embarrassing for a guy who is 203 centimetres and 125 kilograms.
He was glued up and put back into the game, but just didn’t seem to have anything in the tank after half time.
Boom Aussie Matthew Dellavedova crashed back to earth as well, after becoming the darling of social media for his performances in game two and three.
He might be believing his own hype, taking nine three pointers of his 14 shots and making just three – two of those were back to back treys that cut the Warriors lead, but he might have stepped outside of his box, to the detriment of the Cavs.
Then again, Iman Shumpert (2-9) and JR Smith (2-12, 0-8 on three point attempts) couldn’t hit the back side of a barn, so maybe Delly had to try and step up offensively.
The Warriors got great offensive contributions from NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry, who dropped 22 points with six assists and four treys and both Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes had their best games of the finals series.
Both were super all round, with Green dropping 17 points to go with seven boards, six assists, two steals and a block, while Barnes hit two big corner threes and had 14 points to go with eight boards and two blocks.
That pair couldn’t stop Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov off the boards, with 13 and 10 each, the latter taking advantage of the Warriors’ small ball line up with a monster 28 points.
But the Cavs went just 4-27 from the outside and shot just 33 per cent from the field.
Iguodala said he knew his side could bounce back after losing the previous two games and falling behind in the series.
“We’ve seen it all year, every team we go up against, we use our strength in numbers,” Iguodala said.
“Not only do we have a good first unit but we’ve got a second unit that is coming at you with the same type of speed, same type of high IQ basketball.
“It’s hard to keep up with us.
“We’re going to try to keep it going.”
It was a brilliant performance from the Warriors of the road and they looked like their old selves again.
Bring on game five in Oakland.
Game result: Golden State Warriors win ($1.24 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Golden State Warriors -5.5 ($1.60 with CrownBet.com.au)
Total game score: Under 195.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Winning margin: Golden State Warriors 11+ ($2.16 with sportsbet.com.au)
Cleveland won game two and three to go ahead in the series, but you always felt the Warriors were still in it. This one felt like a series changer.
The shots the Dubs had been making all season just would not drop through the first three games. The change to the starting line up helped them get cooking offensively, but also made life more difficult for the Cavs.
The game proved the Cavs’ front line isn’t talented enough to carry the team, the Warriors living with their inside dominance and with standing the career night from Mozgov.
Can the Cavs’ guards give Lebron any sort of support going forward? Hard to see it happening. Shumpert has been terrible, Smith has been worse. Delly has shown flashes, but looking at him realistically, he’s played out of his skin in a couple of games in these playoffs. He’s not the series winning answer for the Warriors.
It falls on Lebron. How tough is he? How much can he put his body through to carry this team? We’d expect him to bounce back, but the Warriors, on their home floor in the NBA Finals in front of a rabid crowd at the Roaracle is just about the toughest task in basketball.
Curry showed signs in the last quarter of game three and he was good in game four without taking over and we’ve been waiting on him to really sizzle. Look for a big outing from the Golden State leader.
We think it will be the Warriors in another blow out in this game. The Cavs just don’t have the options and we’re going with the unders on the game total. Despite the fact the Cavs will have an extra day’s break to lick their wounds, the Warriors blew them out in Cleveland, we’d expect the winning margin to exceed 11 in this one.
Will Lebron register a triple double in game five?
Yes: $3 with WilliamHill.com.au
The King has ruled with an iron fist so far in this finals series.
He’s already rattled off a triple double in game two with a massive 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
And, despite his tired game four performance, he is still averaging nearly 36 points, 12 boards and over eight dimes in the series.
With the extra day’s break before game five, he’ll have a chance to recharge his batteries and he simply must perform better if the Cavs are going to be any chance.
We’re going to back him to produce an effort similar to the game winning performance in game two and register double figure points, rebounds and assists.
The $3 quote with WilliamHill.com.au for him to register a triple double is a fun little market that will allow supporters to hang off absolutely every thing Lebron does.
The double figure points are a given, he’s registered double figure rebounds in three straight and you’d think that would happen again with Golden State’s change over to a small ball line up.
The assists are the issue. He makes his team mates better, drawing the defence and giving them plenty of open looks.
The issue is, his team mates just cannot make the open shots he gives them. So often did he drive the lane in game four and dish it out to one of his wide open boys, only to watch it sail over his head and clank off the rim.
It’s a problem he’s got, but not something he can’t over come, with the 11 dimes in game two evidence of that.
All we can say is the King has reinforced his standing as the best basketball player alive and we reckon you should have a tiny drink on the $3 to make this game a little more interesting.
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