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Cavaliers In Trouble With Must-Win Game 3
The Warriors will keep it close in Game 3
All odds brought to you by Topbet.
Anyone hoping for a hyper-competitive NBA Finals has been disappointed thus far. The Golden State Warriors have won each of the first two games over the Cleveland Cavaliers by at least 19 points. Their most recent victory, on Sunday, was a crash course in everything they stand for: They don't need to play at full bore for all 48 minutes. They'll let you hang around, then use a four or six minute stretch to pull away.
It happened midway through the third quarter of Game 2, which is basically the same story from Game 1. The Cavaliers were in it, cutting into the lead gradually and keeping it below double digits. But then Stephen Curry got hot, Klay Thompson got hotter and Kevin Durant remained the hottest.
That was the end.
It's fitting, then, that the Warriors enter Game 3 as favorites. It doesn't matter that they are on the road, or that the Cavaliers, having trailed 2-0 during last year's Finals are no stranger to this kind of adversity. In fact, given how things have unfolded in this series to date, it's slightly shocking that the Warriors aren't heavier favorites.
The Cavaliers have spent each of the first two games trying to play the Warriors' game. They are getting up and down the floor, making quick decisions and taking advantage of some opportunities on the break. According to NBA.com, the two teams are averaging around 105.49 possessions per 48 minutes through the first couple games. That's a few more than the Warriors burned through during the regular season, and it's more than seven additional possessions than the Cavaliers used.
By allowing this pace to continue, the Cavaliers are playing right into the Warriors' hands—especially when they're not making a ton of threes. That needs to change in Game 3.
Unlike other teams, the Cavaliers have someone, in LeBron James, who can expertly break defenses down in the half-court. He doesn't need a running start or the luxury of extra space. Let him run out the clock after crossing the timeline, and he can still force the Warriors to collapse off the bounce, flinging passes to wide-open shooters in the corners.
Do this, and the Cavaliers aren't only slowing things down, but they're continuing to take field-goals that are worth more. This is the best way for them to make up the suffocating talent gap on the offensive end, as we saw during last year's Finals, when they erased that 3-1 lead.
Here's the thing: The Cavaliers can do all this, and it still might not matter. Durant has been on fire of late and is the odds-on favorite to win Finals MVP should the Warriors snag the championship. Thompson has finally broken out of his slump and continues to join Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala in playing tight-knit defense. And Stephen Curry, as always, is Stephen Curry.
The time to pick the Cavaliers has past. We must predict the Warriors will cover every spread until they don't.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-3)
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