Game 4 NBA Finals – Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
7pm local time, 11am AEST
Cleveland lead the best of seven series, 2-1
Cleveland – $2.23 @ Sportsbet.com.au
Golden State – $1.68 @ WilliamHill.com.au
A SERIES that loomed as a clean-sweep to the team with the NBA’s best regular season record has suddenly become a dogfight.
After their incredible overtime victory in game one, the Golden State Warriors looked to have the measure of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who looked exhausted and lethargic after just the first game of the series.
To compound that for Cleveland, one of the game’s best point guards in Kyrie Irving had been ruled out for the remainder of the finals with a broken knee cap.
Enter Australian Matthew Dellavedova, the dogged backup point guard who has come to exemplify the tenaciousness of the Cavaliers. His never-say-die attitude and surprising offensive output have been crucial in his team’s last two wins.
The man from the Victorian country town of Maryborough limited the 2015 MVP Stephen Curry to just 5 of 23 from the floor for a series low 19 points in game two, while scoring a career-high 20 points in game three’s home victory.
Unfortunately the Cavs may be without the determined defender, who was taken to hospital after game three with severe cramps.
If Dellaevdova is unable to take to the floor, Steph Curry’s likelihood to be the game’s top scorer rises exponentially.
All the attention has been on Curry, who has yet to take the 2015 finals series by storm. The normally prolific scorer has not surpassed 27 points in any of the opening three games and has not looked like the same player since suffering a nasty concussion in the Western Conference finals.
The much famed ‘Splash Brothers’ – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – need to lift their output as a collective unit if they are to overcome the Cavs, who despite their heavily reliance on LeBron James, have had players come off the bench and play their roles.
Andrew Bogut has failed to leave an imprint on this series so far, with the Australian centre scoring just 16 points over three games and a total of 21 rebounds – well below his average of eight rebounds per game for the 2014-15 season.
Bogut is vital on the defensive end for the Dubs, who have struggled to limit scoring in the paint. A big outing from the seven foot Aussie is a must if Golden State are to bounce back and level the series.
On the offensive side for the Cavs, LeBron has been doing what he likes, scoring an incredible 119 points over the first three games of the finals. He has scored a triple-double in two of the first three games, failing to secure an amazing third by just two assists in game three.
The man they call the King is in unprecedented form and holds the key to game four. If the four-time league MVP can maintain the rage, the Cavs will be hard to stop.
Game result: Golden State Warriors to win ($1.72 via William Hill)
Line: Golden State Warriors -3 ($2.10 via Sportsbet)
Total game score: Over 193 ($1.91 via William Hill)
Suggested bet: HT/FT double Golden State Warriors/Golden State Warriors ($2.40 via William Hill)
The Cavs have made a habit of defying the odds in 2015, but it is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect LeBron James to record triple-double every night and score close to 40 points.
Too much is left to the King, and against Steph Curry and Klay Thompson it is unsustainable to have a one-man offence go head-to-head with the best scoring team in the NBA.
Leading 2-1 in the finals has put the home team in a strong position to take the fourth game and leave them just one victory away from a finals clinching win, but the loss of Dellaedova – if he is unable to get himself fit for game four – is enormous as his defensive efforts on the league’s best player in Curry have been nothing short of superhuman.
Shutting down James will be the priority on defence, whose crazy stat lines are unsustainable. The Dubs’ coach Steve Kerr may hand a starting role to veteran Andre Iguodala who has success shutting down the two-time finals MVP in the past.
A greater offensive role may be handed to livewire J.R Smith, who has been relegated to a permanent bench role since his mid-season trade from the Knicks to the Cavs.
The enigmatic Smith has found it hard to find consistency since entering the NBA in 2004, and whilst he can be erratic at the best of times, at his best he is near unstoppable. The pressure and intensity, and most importantly the spotlight of the NBA finals may bring out the best in Smith who has the capacity to single-handedly swing a game in his team’s favour.
Golden State will need their bench to provide more on the scoring end being outscored in both game two and three by a far less experienced and undermanned Cavs’ second unit.
Keep in mind that the Warriors have former all-star talent in their second division in the form of Andre Igouodala and David Lee, both of whom have proven to be capable scorers over their careers – coach Steve Kerr will need more energy off the bench from both in game four.
With their backs to the wall and a potential 3-1 deficit on the cards, the Warriors will be keen to atone their game two and three losses in the best way possible – taking game four in their opponents’ house.
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