G&G’s Aaron Gillette and Peter Gumas offer their reactions to Game 3 of the NBA Finals and look ahead to Game 4 set for Thursday night in Cleveland.
Reaction to Game 3:
Gillette: LeBron dominated the 3rd, Steph finally got going in the 4th, but this was Cleveland’s game. Dellavedova played the role of surprise hero, diving for loose balls, bothering Curry and dropping 20 points in the process. But the story is LeBron James who just set the record for the most points scored through the first 3 games of an NBA finals, averaging an absurd 41 points, 12 boards and 8 assists so far. 2-1 Cleveland, but this thing isn’t over yet.
Gumas: This series has gone from good to great to epic. Every game has come down to the very last minute. LeBron has flat out dominated doing literally whatever he feels like doing, whenever he feels like doing it. However, they wouldn’t be sitting where they are now without the play of little Delly. Whether it’s face-guarding Curry most of the night or hitting absurdly clutch bank and one’s, Delly is doing it all. Still a long way to go in this series though, expect GS to bounce back.
Best Player from Game 3… not named LeBron:
Gillette: It’s obviously LeBron, so let’s talk about the other guys. Pete I have a feeling you’re going to take Delly, so I’m going to give this a tie to the only two guys who played well for Golden State all game long- David Lee and Andre Iguodala. Iguodala was the only player to show up through 3 quarters for Golden State, and David Lee sparked their 4th quarter run before Steph finally started hitting some 3’s. But we’re 3 games in and that is our first reference to Steph Curry in this section. That’s bad news for the Warriors.
Gumas: Fair enough taking David Lee and Iguodala as they both played well and literally kept Golden State afloat at times, but I will roll with my boy Delly. As previously stated, he did it all. I was literally screaming at the TV when they decided to not have him on Curry during spurts in the 4th quarter, which just so happens to be when Curry really got rolling. His effort that makes him so loveable; diving headfirst for loose balls and into the stands are traits that players can’t learn. They either have it or they don’t and you better believe Delly has it.
Biggest Surprise from Game 3:
Gillette: That it was close at the end. Cleveland played sloppy basketball for just a few minutes in the 4th, and all of a sudden a 20 point lead was gone. That tells you how dangerous this Golden State team is, and also exposes how Cleveland hasn’t been all that efficient on offense themselves.
Gumas: That David Lee played as much as he did and as well as he did. I think that he could be a factor during the rest of the series. Golden State desperately needs a big to step up and the former All-Star could be the one.
How the Cavs Should Feel:
Gillette: Motivated. Game 3 proved yet again that games 1 and 2 weren’t flukes, and now the finish line is in sight. Two wins away from a championship, and they can still play better- LeBron has yet to shoot well and JR Smith still hasn’t exploded like we know he can.
Gumas: Relaxed. Pressure is off of them. As the underdogs in this series, people will focus more on what Golden State isn’t doing compared to what Cleveland is doing. If they can continue to keep playing tough, gritty, focused and with loads of energy and even get a little more production from JR and Shump, then they have a good chance at hoisting the trophy.
How the Warriors Should Feel:
Gillette: Angry. For a third straight game, they allowed Cleveland to dictate the pace, dominate the boards, and outhustle them. Golden State didn’t get to 67 wins by taking selfish shots, complaining about fouls and sulking. But, for the third straight game they managed to turn it on late in the 4th to make things interesting, however they need to show up from the get-go if they want to win game 4 and head back home with some momentum.
Gumas: Fired up. They got it going during the 4th quarter of this game. They had some of that mojo working that seemed to be missing for the first three quarters of this game. All of a sudden Curry was hitting ridiculous 3 pointers and there were signs of life. I expect them to show up ready for a battle in Game 4.
Game 4 Adjustments:
Gillette: The Cavs need to stick with the plan: Delly on Curry, run the offense through LeBron, and dominate the boards. It’s working, so keep trying to dictate the pace. But the Warriors finally made some tactical adjustments late in game 3, getting Lee involved in the offense to take pressure off of Steph and Klay, and coming up higher on defense to try and force LeBron into turnovers and shooting 3’s. If the Warriors can combine those adjustments with Steph picking up where he left off in the 4th quarter, the Warriors can get themselves back in this series.
Gumas: I agree, keep Delly pestering Curry and keep everything running through LeBron. But I still think JR and Shumpert need to start producing more on offense if they really want to close this series out. 16 points from the two of them is not enough. On the Golden State side, they need to do what any great shooter will tell you: keep shooting. They slumped through most of the game and came out of it just a little bit too late. I also like the idea of getting Lee more involved, and starting to double LeBron more to stop letting him get to his spots. After 3 incredible performances, its time to roll the dice with making Cleveland’s role players win these games.
By Aaron Gillette and Peter Gumas