Posted on June 8, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The frustration was evident in LeBron James as the final seconds of Game Three of the NBA Finals ticked off the clock Wednesday night. His team had a chance to get back in the series with a big win in front of a home crowd. They would have then had an opportunity to tie the series up with another win in Game Four Friday night.
But after squandering their lead down the stretch and losing Game Three they are faced with trying to keep the Golden State Warriors from making history or making history themselves.
With Wednesday night’s win, the Warriors already made a little history. They are now the proud owners of the longest postseason winning streak in professional sports (previous record—14 by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins). But with another win in Game Four Friday night, they can set a record a little more relevant to them.
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The Warriors can become the first team in NBA history to go through the postseason undefeated. Of course, for the Cavaliers to make history they will have to be the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit.
The spread is not too bad for Game Four (Warriors by 6.5). While the Warriors did dominate the first two games, they were pushed pretty hard by the Cavs in Game Three. Cleveland will likely come out with a little extra motivation because they don’t want to get shut out. On the other hand, they could lay down since the odds of them winning the series are slim to none.
At the same time, the Warriors will likely be a little motivated at the thought of making history. More importantly, they will likely be even more motivated at the thought of closing the series out. Last year they failed to close out the series in Game Five, and it cost them.
However, at the same time, Golden State could come out flat and get their behinds kicked by a pumped up, highly-motivated Cavaliers team.
So-yeah, 6.5 points isn’t much but with all the potential scenarios that could play out, it sounds about right.
The smart money is probably on the Warriors to close out the series Friday night and complete the first undefeated postseason run in NBA history, but the Cavaliers have a shot at making history as well. Yes, the idea that they could be outplayed as much as they were in the first three games and actually win four in a row is laughable.
One sportsbook put their odds at winning four in a row after Game Two at +3500 (meaning that if you bet $100 you would win $3500 if they pulled it off). But the thought of them overcoming a 3-1 deficit last year to win the series was laughable, too—and they did it.
If there was a team that could overcome the astronomical odds, it is the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it will take an awful lot for them to pull it off:
- LeBron James may need to take his game to another level. It sounds strange to say that about a guy that is shooting 55.4 percent and averaging a triple-double. But he can’t count on his team for anything.
- Kyrie Irving needs to produce as he did in Game Three. Cleveland will need him to score 30+ a night if they are going to have a shot.
- The Kevin Love that rebounded well in Game One and shot well in Game Two needs to show up.
- R. Smith needs to score in double figures; it wouldn’t hurt if he hit five three-pointers a night as he did in Game Three.
- Someone must play half-way-decent defense on Kevin Durant. Whoever was covering him in the first half of Game Three didn’t do a bad job. He needs to do that again but for an entire game.
- They can try to outscore Golden State for four games, but there is no way they get it done. Along with defending Durant, someone is going to have to get on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
- Tristan Thompson needs to remember he is a professional basketball player. His performance has been reminiscent of the big, goofy guy in White Men Can’t Jump that pulled a gun on the court. Awful. Just plain awful.
Back to the original question—who do we want to see make history? It’s a given that more than likely, it will be the Warriors. But for many, the record will be hollow. They will not see it as being meaningful since it required a superstar (Durant) join an already stacked Warriors team. Just like many hated LeBron for leaving Cleveland and winning in Miami, many feel the same way about Durant.
However, if Cleveland were to do it, the fans would be treated to four incredible games to end the season. Who doesn’t want to see four incredible basketball games?