The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the world in game two of the 2015 NBA Finals, as they upset the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena and enter game three with a 1-1 tie. More shocking could be Stephen Curry’s woeful shooting display on his own court, as he hit just 2-15 on three’s and 5-23 from the floor, overall. Curry simply coughed up his worst shooting night of the year at the worst possible time. The Warriors also played their second straight overtime game and looked tired near the end of it.
That all being said, James carried this team with a sick triple double (39-16-11) and may have mapped out a blueprint to beat these Warriors. That, or the Cavs gave one great effort that we’ll look back on and respect, but ultimately not admire in a lost NBA Finals. It’s tough to gauge which direction this series is headed. Cleveland has forced two overtime games on the road thanks to gritty defense and James beasting out, while we also really haven’t seen Golden State at their best yet, either. Can the Cavs really withstand injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to go on and win their first ever NBA title? It sure will be interesting to find out, and they’ll aim to do so by taking a 2-1 lead tonight at Quicken Loans Arena. Let’s break the matchup down for tonight and see who comes away with the win:
Golden State Warriors (1) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (2) on ABC at 9:00 pm ET
There are two big keys to this game and the series and they remain obvious: Cleveland slowing down Curry and the Warriors making James beat them. In game three, Curry did Cleveland’s job for them by missing a ton of good looks and James both crushed as a scorer and also got his teammates involved (11 assists). The encouraging thing is despite neither of those huge keys going Golden State’s way, they still went to overtime and only lost by two.
That says something about the Cavs, but it probably says more about Golden State and how perfect the Cavs have to be in every facet to beat them. Then again, Cleveland has played the Warriors so hard that they conceivably could be up 2-0 right now. Curry suggested he’ll never shoot this badly again in these Finals, and I tend to buy that. For game three, I expect Curry to come out and ball and everyone should follow suit on the Warriors once they see their leader has his mojo back. Of course, that doesn’t take care of James. The Warriors need to continue to battle him straight up and hope he doesn’t create as well as he did last game. On top of that, Andrew Bogut needs to win his battles with Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov has grabbed 17 boards in the first two games and has been far too efficient as a scorer (33 points scored). Bogut is a better defender than that and if the Warriors are going to slow Cleveland’s momentum, it’s going to have to actually show.
After having better than a -6.5 line in each of the first two games, game three is suddenly basically a pick’em with the Warriors narrow -1.5 favorites. I’m not buying either as a favorite right now, so working the spread is out the window and you’ll just have to trust your gut on who to pick straight up. Before this series started, I took the Cavs. There was something about their journey to this point, James’ desire to get the city of Cleveland it’s first NBA title and the “us against the world” mentality. Also, as good as the Warriors are, this is their first trip to a stage this big. Like I’ve said all throughout the playoffs, I’m pulling for the Warriors, but even with the injuries it’s clear that Cleveland is on even footing with these Warriors and they absolutely could still win this series. I feel they might put the fear in Golden State tonight with a big win in front of their home crowd.
Pick: Cavs 101, Warriors 98