The Cleveland Cavaliers came home and completely changed the tone of the series in a dominating Game 3 performance and have a chance to even things up at two wins apiece when they host the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday. The Cavaliers have a decision to make in regards to power forward Kevin Love, who sat out the previous game with a concussion and watched his team’s defense improve.
The absence of Love allowed Cleveland to go to a smaller lineup with LeBron James starting at power forward and Richard Jefferson sliding into the first unit, which solved some of the matchup problems the team was having with Warriors power forward Draymond Green in the first two games. “We definitely need him back,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters of Love, though he would not commit to returning the former star to the starting lineup. “We miss his rebounding. We miss his post presence. We miss his 3-point shooting. So we definitely want him back, but he has to take the steps necessary to get himself back.” Golden State won the first two games by a combined 48 points despite reigning two-time MVP Steph Curry not playing up to his usual standards, and another sub-par effort in the Game 3 loss brought his struggles under the microscope. “I stick to my preparation and my mental strategy of staying within myself to get myself out of a hole, and not panicking and not over-complicating things and not trying to psych myself out,” Curry told reporters. “There’s a reason I have confidence out there, and it’s about how I prepare for games.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as two-point favorites at home for Game 4 following their very impressive victory Wednesday. By Thursday morning the line settled down a 1/2 point to -1.5. The total opened at 206.5 and also dropped a 1/2 point by Thursday morning to 206. Keep your eyes on the line history here.
SERIES PRICE (Per Pinnacle):
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (87-15, 58-42-2 ATS, 53-48-1 O/U): Coach Steve Kerr called his team “soft” after Game 3, and the players seemed to agree with their coach when they spoke to the media the following day. “Because we were,” Curry responded when asked about the “soft” label. “They were more physical, they were more purposeful about what they were doing and it took us probably a quarter and a half to respond, and by that time it’s too late. You’re down 33-14 on the road in the finals, you’re not going to win many games with that kind of deficit.” Golden State shot 54.3 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 52-47 in a 110-77 Game 2 win but slumped to 42.1 percent from the field while getting crushed 60-41 on the glass in Game 3.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (70-29, 47-49-3 ATS, 49-50 O/U): Cleveland was in desperation mode going into Game 3 and realizes that it needs to maintain that sense of urgency on Friday. “It’s the same,” James told reporters. “It’s the same mindset. We can’t afford to go down 3-1 and go into their building and give them confidence going back. So it’s a do-or-die game for us still.” The Cavaliers got a big boost in Game 3 from point guard Kyrie Irving, who outscored (30-29), collected more assists (eight to four) and committed far fewer turnovers (eight to two) than the Warriors’ “Splash Brothers” combination of Curry and Klay Thompson.
* Warriors are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 NBA Championship games.
* Cavaliers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 home games.
* Under is 6-1 in Warriors last 7 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Over is 6-0 in Cavaliers last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
* Warriors are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Early Covers Consensus data is showing 59 percent of the public is siding with the Cavaliers as home favorites in Game 4. As for the total, Over is grabbing 68 percent of the action. Click here for full up-to-date consensus data.
MVP ODDS (Per Sports Interaction):
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
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