What the Golden State Warriors are doing is almost unfair. Their abundance of riches was on full display Wednesday night putting them a win away from sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers for a repeat of their title and their third O’Brien Trophy in four seasons. Kevin Durant outdueled LeBron James and the Cavs couldn’t defend their home, where they had won eight straight prior to Game 3. The Dubs can put Cleveland out of its misery with a win on Friday and put an end to what has become a one-sided rivalry in favor of the team from NorCal.
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Game 4 of the NBA Finals is set for Friday, June 8, 2018 at 9 p.m. ET from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The game will be nationally televised on ABC.
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Since the start of the 2017 calendar year, this series has been all Warriors. There was a time when this was a rivalry. Two years ago the Cavs stunned the Dubs by winning three in a row to win the 2016 title. They also won the first meeting the next season and that just seemed to piss off the Warriors.
Since that Cleveland win on Christmas Day 2016, the Warriors have owned LeBron. They’ve won 10 of the last 11 games, with the only loss being in Game 4 in last year’s Finals, while going 8-2-1 against the spread. This rivalry has been anything but in that span.
LeBron has done his part for the Cavs, but they’re overmatched. They had trouble shooting the basketball again on Wednesday, and coupled with the 7 of 27 combined shooting from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the clubs played below the closing total for the first time. The Warriors opened as a 5.5-point favorite and given their recent success against the Cavs, the line has value.
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43 – With Curry and Thompson making seven baskets and scoring 21 points between them, the Warriors needed their third scorer to take over. And that’s exactly what Durant did. KD scored a playoff career-high 43 points making 15 of 23 field goals and 6 of 9 three-pointers. His dagger triple with under a minute to play extended the Dubs’ lead to six points, essentially ending the game and the series.
Durant experienced a shooting slump at the end of the West Final and he made just 8 of 22 shots in the opener. But like good shooters do, he kept firing away and he broke out of his slump. Over the last two games he’s made 67.6 percent of his shots, including 66.7 percent of his threes while going 11 of 11 from the free throw line. Despite his Game 1 woes, KD is shooting 56 percent and averaging 31.7 points in the series.
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This could be the final game for James in a Cavs uniform. He can opt out of his contract once the season is over and test free agency. And with age and the miles adding up, I’m sure he would like to join a club that can compete with Golden State, because this current group of Cavaliers is no match. LeBron has done everything humanly possible except get the Cavs a win in the series.
His 51-point Game 1 was a thing of beauty and he followed that with 29 points and 13 assists in Game 2. He recorded a triple-double on Wednesday with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists while playing 47 minutes. James is averaging 37.7 points in the series and has scored at least 33 points per game in each round. He leads the NBA with 34.5 points per game in the postseason adding 9.2 rebounds and 9.0 assists.
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We saw this scenario play out in last season’s Finals when the Cavs avoided a sweep by winning Game 4 at home. And it would be tough for the Warriors not to have a slight letdown after taking a stranglehold on the series. James is a proud man and you know he’s not going down without a fight. And it’s probably not in the best interest of the league to have a sweep.
The Cavs aren’t going to win the series, but they certainly don’t want the Warriors celebrating another title on their home floor. Get James the slightest bit of help and the Cavs will head back to Northern California for another game and talk of LeBron’s future will have to wait a little longer.
NBA ATS Pick: Cavaliers 110, Warriors 106