The Golden State Warriors overcame a fast start from the Cleveland Cavaliers in Wednesday’s NBA Finals Game 3 to win the contest 110-102. Behind a monster 43-point performance from Kevin Durant on the road, Golden State won its third consecutive game against the Cavs.
The 2018 NBA Finals have followed a similar script to the 2017 NBA Finals so far. In both series, the Golden State Warriors took a 3-0 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers with two home wins and then a narrow road win. Last year, the Cavs responded in Game 4 with a big 21-point win at home to prevent a sweep.
Is a similar performance in store for Cleveland today (9 p.m. ET Friday on ABC) in this year’s Game 4? We will note some important storylines that will greatly affect the Cavs’ ability to secure their first victory in this series. Then this preview will advise on its Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Game 4 predictions and picks.
Does Rodney Hood Have Another Good Performance in Him?
Hood showed the world in Game 3 that he should have been playing a rotational role for the Cavs all playoffs long. In 26 minutes of action, he chipped in 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds, two blocks.
While Hood is not a great defender, he at least offers some versatility at 6’8” with decent athleticism. On offense, he wasn’t overly aggressive and just took the shots that the defense gave him, unlike Jordan Clarkson, the Cavs player he replaced in the rotation. That mentality is valuable on a team that already has LeBron James in the lineup to take the bulk of the shots.
If Hood can continue to be a steady scorer and passable defender for the Cavs, a Game 4 victory at home seems well within the realm of possibility for Cleveland.
Was Stephen Curry’s Bad Game About Himself Or Cavs’ Strategy?
Curry was downright terrible in Game 3. The superstar point guard shot 3-of-16 from the field and 1-of-10 from three-point range en route to just 11 points. In response to Curry’s nine three-pointers in Game 2, Cleveland was extremely aggressive in defending him at all times, often blitzing him with two players even when he didn’t have the ball.
The strategy was generally successful, though it did open up some easy shots at the rim for Curry’s teammates. Cleveland could be on to something with this strategy, even though it did create some easy baskets and allow Kevin Durant to explode for 43 points.
Were Curry’s struggles from Game 4 just him having an off night? Or did the Cavaliers aggressive defensive strategy actually get to him? It is probably some of both, but this Game 4 will likely show us just how much of both it was.
Will Warriors Win Battle of the Centers Again?
For both of these teams, the center position is a relative weakness. Cleveland mainly uses Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. there, and Golden State is employing JaVale McGee and Jordan Bell at that spot.
On paper, Cleveland has the advantage when comparing those two duos. Both Thompson and Nance Jr. are solid players, while JaVale McGee is somewhat unpredictable and Jordan Bell sometimes makes mistakes that are typical of rookies like him.
Golden State’s centers were better in Game 3, though. McGee and Bell combined for 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks on 9-of-12 shooting in 26 minutes. Thompson and Nance Jr. played almost twice as many minutes (47) between the two of them, but they combined for just 13 points, 10 rebounds and one block on 6-of-12 shooting.
Cleveland absolutely has to win these role player battles, because the star power of LeBron James and Kevin Love against Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson is not a fair fight for the Cavs.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Game 4 Predictions & Betting Picks
LeBron James has won seven of his last eight elimination games and he has traditionally gone crazy with spectacular performances in those contests. The Warriors also haven’t really played to their potential very much in these playoffs. Cleveland may have found something good with its defensive strategy on Stephen Curry.
Like last season, I think the Cavs are due for one home win in this series, especially considering they have been very close in two of the three games. These are the Warriors vs Cavs Game 4 predictions for this preview:
- Once again, the Warriors are favored by a somewhat slim margin of 4.5 points on the spread offered by the sportsbooks that accept American players. Since I think the Cavaliers will either win or lose by a only a few points, they are the smart bet. This preview recommends betting on the Cavaliers +4.5 @ -105 with Bovada or Bookmaker.
- For the first time in this series, these squads failed to hit the over for the total points scored in Game 3, combining for 212 points against a 217 over/under. The projected total has dipped slightly after what happened in Game 3, but I would still recommend the under. With a shorter rest before Game 4, these teams may be more liable to slow the pace down. Cleveland will also feature LeBron James heavily in possessions where dribbles for most of the shot clock. I advise betting the under 215.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or Intertops.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.