The Golden State Warriors are still undefeated in the playoffs, with an amazing record of 14-0. Can the Cleveland Cavaliers change that in Game 3 of the Finals on Wednesday? (9pm ET on ABC).
Cleveland should get a boost moving away from the rowdy Oracle Arena crowd and playing in its friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena tonight. Including the playoffs, the Cavaliers have a home record of 36-11 and a road record of 27-23.
However, the Warriors have looked like the team with more star power and more depth thus far. They have been relentless in transition and are getting the shots they want in half-court situations.
What could possibly turn the tide of this series in Game 3? Let’s examine some questions that will significantly affect the outcome before deciding on our betting predictions and picks for this preview.
Can J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson Play Like They’re Paid To Play?
Smith and Thompson are receiving more than $28 million to play as starters for the Cavs this year. In the Finals, though, neither guy has played at a starting level.
Smith has put up 1.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, no assists and 2.5 fouls per game in the first two contests on 1-of-6 shooting from the field. Thompson is at 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest on 40 percent shooting.
Cleveland is at a major disadvantage when its fourth and fifth options in the starting lineup aren’t doing their jobs. Smith is on the floor to stretch the court with deadly outside shooting and play solid defender, and he has done neither. Thompson is there to dominate the glass and protect the rim, and he has also done neither. We can’t expect the Cavs to win if two of their starters are net negatives again.
Will Golden State Limit its Turnovers?
Games 1 and 2 were both Warriors blowouts, but Golden State struggled on defense more in Game 2 thanks to one main reason: turnovers. The Warriors had 20 turnovers in Game 2 after just four in Game 1.
Cleveland’s offense, especially in the first half of Game 2, benefitted greatly from the Dubs’ turnovers. The Cavs were aggressive in transition and made the Warriors pay for their sloppiness.
When Golden State commits turnovers, the miscues are usually self-inflicted. However, the team will have to be much more careful in Game 3, as the hosting Cavs will likely amp up their defensive intensity.
Will LeBron James Attack the Rim More Consistently?
James shot 7-of-10 in the paint in the first half of Game 2. He helped get Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry in early foul trouble with his relentless attack mentality in transition and semi-transition.
In the second half, though, he was just 2-of-2 from that same area, with neither of those shots being on drives. For whatever reason (maybe he was tired?), he deferred more to his teammates later in the contest and chose not to take advantage of his best offensive skill, which is driving to the hoop. He did have 14 assists, but his relative lack of dribble penetration made defending him easier for Golden State.
Though LeBron is an amazing passer, he is still best barreling down the lane. He must find a better balance of creating for himself and keeping his teammates in rhythm during Game 3.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Game 3 Predictions & Picks
The Warriors are a completely different animal than last season, when they led 2-0 and 3-1 in the Finals before losing to the Cavaliers. They might be the best NBA team ever assembled, actually.
That said, we should expect Cleveland to win a game in this series, as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are too good to get swept. There’s also little to no chance J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson continue to play as bad as they have thus far as the series moves to Cleveland. So we move to this preview’s betting picks and predictions:
- Unsurprisingly, Golden State continues to be the favorite in this series despite moving on the road. The top bookmakers for USA sports betting have the Warriors -3pts on the spread for Game 3. Although I wouldn’t be shocked if the Warriors win easily again, the Cavaliers losing or winning narrowly seems more likely. Bet on the Cavs +3pts @ best odds of -105 with Bookmaker.eu. Most other firms are -110.
- Over/under total points lines for tonight’s game vary between 226 and 227. Both teams have the offensive firepower to blow that line out of the water. However, I like Cleveland’s chances at slowing down Golden State’s fast break attack better at home, and the Cavs will make a more concerted attempt to muck the game up with a renewed dedication to attacking the offensive glass. Bet the under 227pts @ -110 with Bookmaker Sportsbook, the only betting company with the line as high as 227pts.