The Cleveland Cavaliers have stunned everybody but themselves by taking a 2-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, and now the Cavaliers will try to grab a commanding 3-1 lead when the two teams get together for Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
Cleveland's Game 3 victory was similar to its Game 2 triumph, as it featured a lot of LeBron James, Matthew Dellavedova, stingy defense and a late Warriors rally.
James nearly notched another triple-double, recording 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. His 123 points after three games is a new Finals record, and while his efficiency hasn't been as good as usual, the way he has controlled the tempo has been masterful.
Dellavedova has become an unlikely Finals hero thanks mostly to his defense on Stephen Curry, but Delly also contributed significantly on offense in Game 3. The Aussie scored a playoff career-high 20 points, and his three biggest points came on a flailing, banked and-1 with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter after Golden State had trimmed a 20-point deficit down to just one.
The Warriors got in that 20-point hole thanks to more poor shooting and that stingy Cavaliers defense. Curry's struggles from Game 2 carried over to Game 3, as the MVP had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half. The only Warrior to play all that well in the opening half was Andre Iguodala, who had 10 points at the break.
While Golden State looked shell-shocked for a good portion of Game 3, the fact that Curry went off in the fourth quarter is a silver lining to take into Game 4. The MVP found his stroke with 17 points in the final frame, and if that momentum can transfer over, the Warriors should be in good shape on Thursday night.
Of course, it would also help if Curry's teammates stepped up. Thompson is shooting 32 percent from three in the Finals. Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut have been zeros offensively, and the Cavaliers have been daring those players to beat them.
Green's struggles have been especially hurtful, and he's actually hurting with back spasms. The forward will play in Game 4, but if he continues to struggle, perhaps David Lee gets an even bigger role after the forgotten man provided a spark in Game 3.
For the Cavaliers, Dellavedova will play in Game 4 after making a trip to the hospital on Tuesday night to deal with dehydration and exhaustion. Iman Shumpert will also play despite a shoulder injury suffered early in Game 3. Shumpert returned to the game and an MRI revealed no structural damage.
Expect to see Golden State come out and play with more desperation in Game 4. The Warriors were in this position in the second round against the Memphis Grizzlies, but of course, the Grizzlies didn't have LeBron. It should be another good one on Thursday night.
How to watch
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Place: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
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