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Warriors take 3-0 lead on Kevin Durant dagger

The Golden State Warriors won’t stop and can’t be stopped.

With just under four minutes left the Cavaliers led by six points for the first time all series in the fourth quarter. With under a minute left in the game Lebron James would pass to Kyle Korver for a corner three-point shot that could have put Cleveland up comfortably.

Instead Korver missed the shot as Durant rebounded and headed the other way to hit the dagger three as James contested the shot.

Durant finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

It was a coming out game for Kyrie Irving who finished with 38 points and six rebounds. Irving rebounded from his poor Game 2 shooting as he shot 55-percent from the field Wednesday night.

James would finish with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. J.R. Smith also had a rebound game shooting 5-of-10 from the field and finished with 16 points. James, Irving, and Smith would be only Cavaliers scoring in double digits.

The Warriors take a 3-0 lead in the series. No team had ever came back and won the series after trailing the series 3-0.

Game 4 is in Cleveland on Friday night. Tip-off is at 9 PM EST on ABC.

How Cleveland Must Defend the Land

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a familiar place after Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals. It was a little over a year ago they lost Game 2 110-77 in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Let’s fast forward to 2017 and add an ingredient to the mix. Kevin Durant is sporting blue and yellow for Golden State and coming off a 33-point (13-of-22 from the field), 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and five blocks performance in Game 2.

What’s the quick fix for LeBron James going back home? “I just need food and wine and I’ll be alright”, stated James after the Cavaliers 132-113 loss in Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals.

If history plans to repeat itself in 2017, James certainly has all reason to be calm as the Cavaliers ran away with a 120-90 victory in Game 3 of the 2016 Finals.

“Defend the Land”

The 2017 Playoffs slogan is stamped on every corner in Cleveland as the is city still ignited by their first NBA Championship last year.

Through two games in the 2017 NBA Finals, the margin of victory in this series so far is 20 points for Golden State. Perhaps on the bright side is that the margin of victory was 26 points after Game 2 in last year’s Finals. As the series shifts back to Cleveland for Game 3 and Game 4 there are a few key details the Cavaliers will need to improve on.

Pace

The Warriors are an offensive juggernaut and pouring in points at an ease. Of course, this is all possible and obvious when you add Durant to the mixture of already prolific three-point shooters in NBA history. However, the Cavaliers will need to play a pace that favors them. Let’s kick it to turtle mode for this one. Slowing down the pace and avoiding unnecessary turnovers can increase the chances to keep the Warriors from transition threes. The one concern for Cleveland would be settling into isolated play with the slower pace. The ball must move while the shooters are freed up for Cleveland. They’ve shot the three ball terribly at 31-percent in Games 1 and 2 which is below the 43-percent average coming into the Finals.

Tristan Thompson

He was certainly my X-Factor coming into the Finals and still remains that. His limited minutes in the series so far has not allowed Cleveland to see many second chances. Thompson is averaging 21 minutes a game in the Finals and only four rebounds a game. Prior to the Finals, Thompson averaged 4.2 offensive rebounds and pulled in 9.3 rebounds per game in the Eastern Conference journey. The Cavaliers will need to try and keep Thompson on the floor and battle on the glass. The offensive rebounds can give the Cavs second chance looks at home.

Better Guard Play

The starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith will have to improve their shooting which is no easy feat to match Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Irving and Smith shot 19-of-51 (37-percent) from the field combined in Games 1 and 2. Smith has only attempted six shots in the two games combined. They say shooters will have to shoot themselves out of a slump, however, time is limited if Klay Thompson remains hot next to Curry.

Chess Match

The highest level of play comes with a chess match demeanor. Steve Kerr returned to the bench in Game 2 and certainly out-coaching Tyronn Lue. The talk of Game 2 was what adjutants would Cleveland make to recoup from their Game 1 loss. One obvious adjustment seen from Coach Lue was Channing Frye off the bench in Game 2 as he did not play in Game 1. With J.R. Smith having no impact on the series thus far perhaps a change in the starting line-up could help boost the Cavaliers. Whatever it is, Cleveland needs a significant adjustment that may come from Lue’s call.

Will History Repeat?

Flashback to the 2016 NBA Finals. In Game 3 of the very same Finals, Kevin Love did not play due to a concussion. This served no difference as Cleveland avenged their first two losses with a 120-90 win. If this series is headed in favor of the history between these teams things are looking up for Cleveland.

Game 3 is on Wednesday night in Cleveland. Tip-off is at 9 PM EST on ABC.

Celtics bounce back from 21-point deficit to win Game 3

After a 44-point loss on their home floor Friday night the Boston Celtics had all odds against them heading to Cleveland for the next two games. After falling behind by as much as 21 points the Celtics found a way to come back. A 111-08 win in Cleveland puts the Celtics on the board as Cleveland now leads the series 2-1. Boston played their first game without All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who was announced out the rest of the series with a hip injury.

It was an Avery Bradley three-point shot bouncing in with .1 seconds left that would lift the Celtics over Cleveland Sunday night. The Celtics were lead by Marcus Smart who scored a career high 27 points on 8of-14 shooting. Boston shot 45-percent making 18-of-40 threes from the field. The three-point shooting would be the different as Smart hit on 7-of-10 from downtown. Jonas Jerebko connected on 2-of-4 threes and come up with a big three with 30 seconds left to put the Celtics up by two points.

Lebron James had a game to forget as the Cavalier All-Star finished with 11 points, six rebounds, six assists and six turnovers. James failed to register points in the final 16 minutes of the game. Kevin Love finished with 28 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. He would lead all Cavaliers by making eight three-point attempts. Kyrie Irving would lead the Cavaliers in scoring with 29 points.

The Cavaliers saw a more improved Boston defense as jump shots were contested. The defensive effort translated to the offensive end for Boston who knocked down big shots in their comeback victory. The Celtics closed the 3rd quarter on a 26-10 run.

Game four is Tuesday night in Cleveland. Tip-off is at 8:30 EST on TNT.

Celtics (1) vs Cavaliers (2)

The Eastern Conference Finals is set. The Boston Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night to kick-off the series after a long seven games series against the Washington Wizards.

Boston

Boston Celtics lead by 5’9 Isaiah Thomas had a tough route to get here. The sudden death of Thomas’ sister and a 0-2 deficit against Chicago Bulls the Celtics fought back and won four straight games to head into the Conference Semifinals. A match-up against the Washington Wizards and a John Wall game winning three-point shot forced a game seven. In that very same game seven the Celtics ran away late thanks to extra help from Kelly Olynyk. The Celtics have shown resilience to bounce-back from any challenge so far in the postseason.

Vegas has already written off the Celtics and most have agreed. Boston is ranked 25th in defensive rebounding this year. They will have to do a better job on the boards and avoid giving LeBron James extra possessions.

Al Horford is having a great playoffs so far and will have to continue to give Boston a chance in this series. Horford is averaging 16 points and seven rebound is this years playoffs. Horford’s ability to shoot the ball from the outside will be key for Boston. Having a center like Horford will force Cleveland to do a lot of switching especially when Boston decide to run pick-n-roll with Isaiah Thomas and Horford.

Boston Celtics have not played a team as deep as Cleveland. Boston was able to take advantage off the Wizards poor excuse for a bench. It will not be the same against Cleveland. Cleveland’s bench can produce and will produce with this long rest they had. If Boston will have to continue to have an efficient bench likewise in game seven against the Wizards. However, the expectation shouldn’t be for Kelly Olynyk to score 14 of 26 in the fourth quarter against the Cavaliers.

Marcus Smart in this playoffs is averaging 8.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4 assist. The former Oklahoma State star has had his impact on the first two series. From taking big charges late, getting offensive rebounds, and making big plays for others. Smart has done it all. Coming off the bench Smart’s ability to play both guards and defend both spots will be very important, although Smart is not a great outside shooter he is capable of hitting outside shots and he is not afraid of taking those big shots as well. He will be a bigger body to throw at Lebron James defensively. Smart’s role in slowing down James will be key for the Celtics.

Cleveland

Can you remember the last time Cleveland lost a game? I can’t either maybe sometime in the regular season. Cleveland was able to cruise through the first two-rounds going 8-0.

Tristan Thompson has played very well so far averaging 7.8 points and 10.6 rebounds. We know Thompson will give you the rebounding and the toughness. In this series Thompson will have his handful. Thompson has not played against bigs like Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk. Both Olynyk and Horford will give Thompson trouble because both of them can space the floor with their shooting, and both can put the ball on the floor well enough at their size. Thompson does not have the foot speed to keep up with them on the perimeter. The way Thompson wins this battle is having them work on the defensive end. Boston bigs all struggle to rebound if Thompson can put pressure by crashing the glass and getting Boston bigs in foul trouble early will help Cleveland.

Kevin Love has played very inconstant against Toronto in the second round. The close-out game against Toronto Love finished with just five points and six rebounds. Love is key to Cleveland’s success. Love has to get it going early against the likes of guarded Amir Johnson. Johnson not a bad defender but will struggle to keep Love in front of him because Johnson is not accustom to defending jump shooting bigs.

Isaiah Thomas has played extremely well in this playoffs. In order for Boston to win Thomas will have to keep his high level play going. Cleveland will have there hands full guarding the Seattle native. Thomas is a great offensive player and pretty good passer too. Thomas is still tiny. Thomas excels in pick-n-rolls because teams end up switching putting a big in front of Thomas, which Thomas usually blow by them. Thomas struggles on the defensive end when he’s switched on to a taller and more skilled player. Similar to what the Wizards did by forcing Thomas to switch on Bradley Beal, the Cavaliers may force Thomas to guard Irving.

Cleveland dominated the regular season series against Boston especially in the April 5th match-up in Boston where the Cavaliers lead by 29 points in that game. LeBron James will be seeking to win wrap this series up and head to his seventh straight NBA Finals. His dominance continues and as it seems he’s unstoppable unless its an injury (Please Basketball Gods don’t allow that to happen).

Final prediction? Too much King James for Boston to handle: Cleveland in 5.