NBA Championship Preview Game Three: Golden State vs. Cleveland

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State WarriorsIt cannot be said more vehemently but Game 3 is do or die for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though they are not on the brink of elimination yet, they might as well be because against the Golden State Warriors they find themselves in a virtual “must-win” situation. The Cavs get to head home for Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals and friendly faces will be quite welcomes since LeBron James and Co. so desperately need a win on Wednesday night.

Trying now to win four out of five games against the Warriors, who have gone 87-14 in the regular season and playoffs combined, for the Cavs seems an impossible task. But it might be the moral victory they need more than anything. A sweep would be devastating and shut the mouths of many critics who don’t compare Steph Curry to King James.

Unlike last year, this year has disappointed so far. Blow out after blowout, this was supposed to be one of the greatest finals in recent years. But it’s been utterly one-sided. Though the same could have been said for the Toronto Raptors in their two first games against the Cavs until they surged back and took Game 3 and 4, this situation truly seems hopeless. The Warriors outscored the Cavs by 48 points in two games at Oracle Arena, and so much would have to change in order for Cleveland to have a sliver of a chance to get back in the series, that it seems all bets are off.

Stunningly enough, Golden State did most of their damage without the help from the league’s first ever unanimous MVP: Stephen Curry. He scored only 11 points in Game 1, and the Warriors ran away with the game in Game 2 as the sharp-shooting point guard sat on the bench due to foul trouble, finishing with just 18 points in just 25 minutes. Klay Thompson hasn’t had to put up big numbers either, he’s only averaged 13 points per game. And maybe that’s why they have been so difficult to stop – everyone on that team is producing, not just the stars – so how do you defend against that?

Unlike last year’s finals, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving played in both Games 1 and 2. But strangely, the two star players that make up two-thirds of Cleveland’s Big 3 haven’t been the deciding factor for Cleveland. And then there is James, who finds himself in the same story as last year. The Cavs need James to play at his all-time highest level just to compete against the Warriors. So when he struggles, Cleveland simply has no chance.

Since Game 4 of last year’s finals, the Warriors have been able to figure out how to avoid letting James take over the game, like he did when the Cavs stole a 2-1 series lead last year. The Cavs still have yet to lose a home game, but it will probably happen tonight, but Cleveland and their fans ae staying positive and confident in their chances, but the stats and their previous play seem to indicate that Game 3 will not be much more different from the first two outings in this series.

Though we still think that the Cavaliers can win one game. If by chance, the Warriors shoot poorly and James gets going at the right time, and J.R. Smith makes a bunch of 3s, they can win a game in Cleveland for their fans. But there is no way this series will go to 7 games. So be prepared for a short finals.

And why? It’s because the Cavaliers simply aren’t good enough. James would have to lose his mind shooting and score 50 points a night to challenge the Warriors, since they are just too deep and too smart, and they know how to defend very well. The Cavaliers have too many holes, and there’s nothing any of the star players can say or do or strategize to cover that up. It’s too late now, the choices made in the regular season are coming home to roost, and that will make the man they call ‘King’ left standing feeling kind of regular.

Our Pick: Warriors over Cavs, 105-97