After two thrilling overtime games between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the NBA Finals are tied at one game apiece. The series heads to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland for game three and the intrigue is at an all-time high (9pm ET, Tuesday, June 9 on ABC).
Over the past two games, it’s proven that 48 minutes is not enough time to crown a winner. This is the first time in NBA history that games one and two of the Finals have gone into overtime but given the teams involved and the quality of basketball being played, this is really no surprise.
Game one saw the Cavaliers take a three point lead into halftime, only to be matched almost bucket for bucket by the Warriors from that point on. Golden State evened the score going into the fourth, a quarter in which both teams scored 25 apiece en route to overtime. This is where the Warriors excelled however. At one point, the Cavs missed eight in row in OT, 12 in a row going back to the fourth quarter. LeBron James, despite scoring 44 points, missed some key shots down the stretch, ultimately contributing to his team’s 108-100 loss.
The biggest factor for the Warriors wasn’t Stephen Curry or even Klay Thompson (pictured) really, although both did their share with 26 and 21 points respectively. The Warriors bench was the game changer, outscoring Cleveland 34 -9. Meanwhile for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving, despite have a solid game, re-aggravated his knee injury in overtime. He left the game and didn’t return for game two.
And that brings us to that second game. Golden State had every bit the edge coming in. They had the 1-0 lead, home field advantage and the knowledge that they were going against a Cavalier team that was without both Irving and Kevin Love, who has missed most of the postseason with a shoulder injury.
But the game was low-scoring, an outcome that ultimately favored the Cavaliers. The teams combined for less than 100 points (47-45) in the first half and were even worse than that in the third quarter, a mark that saw just 29 total points. Cleveland entered the fourth quarter with a three point lead but at one point, with about seven minutes left to go in the game, had increased this lead to nine. The Warriors came charging back however, with Curry coming in with a game-tying lay-up with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Cleveland once again had the final possession to win it in regulation and once again missed. The teams battled in OT, with Cleveland just barely emerging the victor by a score of 95-93. Matthew Dellavedova, who was replacing the injured Irving, scored just nine points in 42 minutes. He did make his only two free throws, which ultimately were the points that made the difference.
James vs Curry
Going forward, the Finals story continues to be between the league’s premier superstars in Curry and James. In game two, James won the battle as Curry had just 19 points on 23 field goal attempts, including a critical overtime miss that could have won the game for the Warriors. James on the other hand, had his fifth career triple double; scoring 39 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists.
But despite James’ numbers, neither he nor Curry has been perfect in the Finals. In fact, both are shooting well under their season and career averages. James’ triple double was made possible because he attempted 34 shots, only 11 of which went in. His biggest contribution on the night may have been at the line where he went 14-18.
Overall, James has carried the load this Finals and will likely continue to do so. Without Irving he has taken at least 34 shots in both Finals games. Before the Finals, James had only topped 34 once this postseason, aided in a major way by Irving and to a point, Love’s contributions. But without the two of them, James has gone back to the way he was in the Cavaliers early playoff runs. He is taking over. The only question is if he can sustain that kind of production for at least three more games.
Curry meanwhile has had an up and down postseason. There have been games where he has reminded of the MVP winning season he had and others where his production has been shockingly low. Fortunately enough for Curry, he has Thompson and he has quality bench guys like Andre Iguodala and defensively Draymond Green. The team chemistry and overall makeup has helped the Warriors not have one glaring weakness. That has been huge in getting them to this point.
But ultimately, the winner of the series and game three, will come down to the Curry was James battle. At home, in front of the Cleveland crowd, the safe money is on James. However, Curry also has a bit of a history of coming up big when his team needs him. These two are the best in the game right now and this series is proving why.
Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Game 3 Betting Picks
These two teams have been so pleasantly evenly-matched and it’s made for great basketball. Both teams advanced to the Finals relatively easily and in two 53-minute games, have really shown why. The Cavs and Warriors match up well with both teams actually being able to boast both offensive and defensive strengths. So far, it’s tough to call how this one will end as everything has really been so split down the middle. At the very least, it should go six with seven being a very real possibility.
As for game three, I like the Cavs to grab the first one at home and take the 2-1 lead. James is going to continue to be given the ball, as he should, and even though his field goal percentage isn’t what you’d like it to be, he’s still doing what needs to be done.
- Bet on the Cavs on the moneyline to win game 3 @ best odds of -118 with BetOnline Sportsbook.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.