NBA Playoffs Preview: Warriors at Cavaliers Game 4

Warriors at Cavaliers Game 4 Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their opportunities to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals. There was LeBron James’ masterful 51-point performance in Game 1, and then Stephen Curry’s 3-16 shooting display in Game 3. Neither contest resulted in a victory for the Cavs, making it hard to believe that the series will last beyond Friday night’s Game 4.

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Golden State took a commanding 3-0 lead Wednesday night with a 110-102 victory at Quicken Loans Arena. The Warriors survived Curry’s worst game of the postseason. Klay Thompson scored just 10 points on 11 shots, and Draymond Green was a minus-two in 40 minutes.

Kevin Durant was unstoppable in Game 3, scoring 43 points on 15-23 shooting, including a 33-foot three-pointer with 49.8 seconds remaining that put the game away. He outplayed James, who had his worst shooting night of the series but still managed to record a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

When James isn’t by far the best player on the court, Cleveland has no chance. If he is able to outperform Durant and Curry by a wide margin, he still needs some help from a supporting cast that hasn’t offered all that much support this postseason. Golden State learned that in the series when they overcame James’ 51-8-8 for an overtime win.

Durant didn’t have it in Game 1, but the Warriors picked him up. When Curry, Thompson and Green underperformed in Game 3, the NBA’s second-best player led them to victory.

Why would Game 4 be any different?

Cleveland’s role players performed a little better at home like they have for the entire postseason. Kevin Love recorded another triple-double, while Rodney Hood finally contributed with 15 points off the bench. But J.R. Smith still had more shots than points after a strong first half, and George Hill was nowhere to be found with five points and four assists. Kyle Korver went scoreless and Jeff Green made one shot.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, one or two role players stepped up in Cleveland’s wins, giving James enough assistance to get the Cavs over the hump. That’s not nearly enough against an all-time great team.

The Cavs didn’t go away quietly last year when they fell into a 3-0 hole. They defeated the Warriors 137-116 in Game 4 behind 40 points from Kyrie Irving and 24 made three-pointers.

Without Irving and the same kind of three-point shooting they had in 2017, Cleveland’s chances of pushing the series back to Oracle Arena are not looking good.

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