It’s come down to the final three games in the NBA Finals, as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are tied up at 2 games apiece. Much is playing out as predicted. Everyone knew it would be tough for the Cavs to steal one at Golden State. They did. Going to Cleveland, it was assured that the Warriors would have a tough time tied at one game apiece, and they did. They lost game three, and it wasn’t even close.
Also, one of the primary points regarding this matchup has been Golden State’s depth, which includes two sets of five who can start if needed, and the Cavaliers’ lack of such, especially with injuries to Love and Irving. It was noted that LeBron James would have to carry this team to the championship, and, if that was the case, that fatigue would set in about halfway through the series. Fatigue did set in during game four.
Game four played out with Warriors coach Steve Kerr shaking up the starting five a bit. He started Andre Iguodala instead of Andrew Bogut, decided to concede the paint to the Cavs, and got his team playing their up tempo game again and scoring. The result was an easy 103-82 Warriors win.
But now what? Where are we and what should we expect?
This is a three-game series now and the Warriors have regained home court advantage. The next game is on Sunday at Golden State. The next is at Cleveland on Tuesday and the third, if needed, will be back on the Warriors’ court on Friday. Which team benefits from this schedule?
The schedule helps Golden State in a few ways. First, and foremost, they have their home court back. They’ve already lost one game there in this series; it will take a massive effort for Cleveland to beat them again on their home court. Remember, that win in Oakland by the Cavs was in OT. It was the second straight OT games in the series, and it was wearing on all. That brings up another point.
Travel takes its toll in a playoff series and the club with the least depth will feel the effects of travel most. That team would be the Cavs. Plus, playing away from home just isn’t as restful and refreshing as playing at home. Again, disadvantage Cleveland.
Depth has been addressed many times. Golden State has a very deep bench. This affords them many things. First, it gives them the ability to mix it up in terms of adjusting their lineup and game, which forces Cleveland to continue to adjust to what Kerr and company have done. Second, they have fresher legs, as game minutes can be spread out amongst more players.
In game four, the need for fresh legs that could cover for LeBron James was made apparent when the Cleveland star sat out 48 seconds of the fourth only to see the Warriors increase their lead to 10. In the past three games of the series, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson have given important minutes and made various essential plays on the court. This was not the case on Thursday in game four when James was spent.
In listening to media hype on this series and especially on game four, you should be reminded that what the media says is not usually fact. If it is fact, it is colored with a lot of opinion, and, often, it is more opinion than fact. They make the pronouncements they make to get people to listen to them so they can sell products and make money.
Thus, media hype will make a big deal out of nothing, such as James cut that was sealed with glue, (pretty common these days), the fact that James can’t be a champion if he’s tired (actually, he can be one, but he is human after all), or that momentum carries over from one game to the next (it does not, any pro will tell you that momentum occurs within a game exclusively, as each game is a separate set of actions).
As a sports bettor wagering on any sporting event, but especially on a major one where the media wants the “story” that will get your attention, where they want to create controversy to get your attention, and where they want to howl opinions to, once again, get your attention, turn off the hype. Go to facts before you bet.
Here are the basics on this series based on fact:
- It’s tied- 3 games left and whoever takes 2 is the NBA Champion
- Golden State has home court
- Curry is underperforming, but State has depth which can makeup for that
- James outperformed everyone in games 1-3, and now he’s tired
- The Cavs bench is inconsistent
- Golden State coaches have more chess pieces to play with than Cleveland coaches
- If the Warriors can run and open up the court they win
- If Cleveland can slow the game down, conserve energy, and play efficiently, they win
- It’s Cleveland’s inside game versus Golden State’s outside
It’s 60-40 in favor of the Warriors. But, if Cleveland takes the next game in Oakland, rethink everything.