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NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors Game 3 Preview

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The Cavs look to take a 2-1 series lead.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to bounce back from their game one overtime loss with an overtime win in Game 2. They received another gigantic game from LeBron James and that has helped set themselves up for the biggest game in franchise history, and the biggest game for the city of Cleveland since the Indians were in the 1997 World Series.

A game three win at home would give the Cavs the series lead and put the Golden State Warriors in a position where they need to beat a LeBron James lead team three times in four outings. A tall task for a roster with no prior experience in the NBA Finals.

Who? Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

When? 9:00 p.m.

Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland Ohio.

Where should I direct on my eyeballs? ABC

Enemy blog: Golden State Of Mind

Music:

CLEVELAND IS THE CITY WHERE WE COME FROM, SO RUN.

The Cavs managed to win game two despite a poor shooting performance from essentially the entire roster. They shot 32.2 percent as a team and Timofey Mozgov was the only player to shoot over 50 percent. While Steph Curry's game two shooting is unlikely to replicate itself, it's not unreasonable to expect a dropoff from the rest of the supporting cast and a boost to the Cavs role plaers now that the games are no longer in Oakland.

The most important factor for the Cavs will of course be LeBron James. He is shouldering an absolutely ridiculous load so far in the Finals and the toll of which was really felt in the second half as of game two as his overall efficiency numbers slipped. He's obviously going to continue giving it everything he's got, but if the Cavs are to have a chance this season, J.R. Smith can't go 5-13, Iman Shumpert can't go 2-11 and Tristan Thompson can't go 0-5. If the Cavs inexperienced supporting cast can feed off the crowd and perform within the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena, it's going to help preserve LeBron and keep him fresh enough to try and pull off this monumental upset. While things are obviously more difficult without Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving, the Cavs have still only lost twice since early January at home and have to feel very confident about their chances.

David Blatt will need to continue to trust his gut when it comes to rotation management. While his roster decisions don't always make sense on the surface, it's impossible to argue with the results and he has been quick to correct any mistakes. Hopefully he'll realize that the Cavs big starting lineup does not have enough offensive firepower with both Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova on the perimeter. While Smith was very bad in game two, he acknowledged how bad he played and could possibly benefit from a start in game three. The crowd and team feeds off his energy and could help give the Cavs offense some bite early with Mozgov and Thompson in the paint to contend with Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green.

Keys to the game

  • Get more possessions than the Warriors. Managing turnovers and continuing the offensive glass is absolutely vital to a Cavs win. Cavs won on Sunday in part because of their plus two advantage in the turnover battle and plus ten advantage on the boards. If they can do that again and shoot better, they might actually have a shot at getting a series lead.
  • Contain the Splash Brothers. Dellavedova did a fantastic job of making Curry work, but the Cavs need to make sure that Klay Thompson doesn't get too many quality looks early. Klay is someone that can lose confidence if he misses a few early. While you can't ever expect to fully neutralize the pair, making things difficult for them and keeping them uncomfortable is the best way to go.
  • Give Marreese Speights open breakaway dunks.
  • Dictate the pace. Keep the Warriors out of transition and force them to score in the halfcourt.
  • Get to the free throw line. Breaks in the game help control the pace, give the shorthanded Cavs a chance to catch their breath and help keep the Warriors accountable. Attacking the rim helped get Thompson and Green in foul trouble at various points in Game 2. They need to continue to make sure they don't just settle for jumpers and create their looks from deep off of penetration.

Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction

This postseason run has been absolutely incredible. It's been unpredictable and hasn't always made sense. There's just something about it that feels storybook and almost unprecedented. I'm going with the Cavs in a 102-96 win.