The story of the 2017 NBA Finals hasn’t been LeBron vs. Steph, it hasn’t been Draymond playing dirty, and it hasn’t been the Warriors’ undefeated postseason run; thus far, it’s just been about the talent disparity between the league’s two best teams. The TV numbers aren’t down and the interest is still there, but the headlines are lacking considerably. The Cavs can still come back, but the hill is going to be long, steep, and grueling.
Golden State has stated its dominance. As Game 3 approaches, NBA odds now favor the Warriors by -1500 in a no-question landslide. The +800 Cavs are the underdog, but the tides could change. Cleveland was down 2-0 last year before storming back to take the title.
LeBron and Co. do have one blemish on their home postseason record after they were shocked by Boston in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals a few weeks ago, but they’ve otherwise been dominant at Quicken Loans Arena. Out of their six home playoff games thus far, Cleveland’s enjoyed three double-digit victories and hasn’t shot less than 41% from beyond the arc in those games — their ability to hit threes will be absolutely vital on Wednesday night.
The long ball has been an Achilles’ heel for the Cavs — the Warriors set an NBA Finals record in Game 2, hitting 41.9% of their shots from beyond the arc, whereas Cleveland has shot 35.5% and 27.6% in the first two contests. Many of those Warriors buckets were quick pull-up jumpers on fast breaks — needless to say, controlling the tempo and capitalizing on the long ball remain the biggest keys for Cleveland.
Kyle Korver will be relied upon heavily after hitting just one trey last game, and JR Smith continues to be a ghost, only scoring three points in the entire series. Coming off a Game 2 triple-double, LeBron certainly hasn’t gone missing, but his supporting cast has been outshot, outplayed, and outmanned at every corner.
For the Cavs to take this win and turn this series around, they’re going to need to revert to man-to-man D and a quick transition offense. If they can move the ball quickly to find the open hands while cutting down on the Warriors’ pull up jumpers, they’ve still got a chance.