The Cleveland Cavaliers are up 2-1 in these NBA Finals and look to have the Golden State Warriors offense all figured out.
Matthew Dellavedova has been the cinderella story of the NBA Finals so far with his high motor and suffocating defense on MVP Steph Curry. He's using every single drop of energy he can muster up into every single game and his trip to the hospital after Game 3 due to fatigue and severe cramping is evidence of that.
LeBron James leadership has the Cleveland Cavaliers playing like the more aggressive and hungrier team. Every loose ball, every hustle play you can see a Cavaliers player in uniform right in the thick of the play.
So how can the Golden State Warriors comeback in this series, the answer can be found in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
After scoring a measly 3 points in the first half and only 10 points after three quarters, things began to click in the fourth quarter for the MVP Steph Curry. He shot 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and almost orchestrated a late rally with 17 points in the final frame.
“We became the aggressors,” Curry said. “Just like the last three minutes of Game 2. For us to win this series, we have to play that way the whole game. We have the depth, we have the talent to do it, whether we’re at home or on the road.”
Steph Curry and the Warriors can also thank David Lee for their offensive explosion in that fourth quarter. Lee and Curry began running the pick-and-roll ever so effectively and it worked. Lee is an offensive threat in a way the struggling Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut have not been this series. According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com (using SportsVU cameras), when Lee screened Curry the team scored 20 points on 13 possessions (1.54 per possession), compared to 25 points on 40 possessions when anyone else was the screener for Curry (0.63 points per possession).
David Lee's ability to roll to the basket and also spot and shoot is a big reason why him and Curry worked so well offensively. Lee may be somewhat of a defensive liability on the defensive end but his offense will be able to overcome what deficiencies he has on the other end.
No matter how good the Warriors defensive statistics were throughout the year a big reason for that is their offense setting up their defense. When they're pushing the floor and just pouring it on their opponent it forces the other team to make careless mistakes and a lot of time ill-advised shots because they're trying to keep pace with the Warriors.
This series reminds this author very much of the 2011 NBA Finals when the Dallas Mavericks were unable to get on a roll offensively until head coach Rick Carlisle inserted guard J.J Barea into the starting lineup to create more offense.
That move changed the momentum of the series as Dallas would regain their shooting touch from the outside and it propelled them to come back from a 2-1 deficit to win three games in a row and the series in 6 Games.
David Lee can provide the same type of momentum shift in the Warriors favor, while he may not start he certainly play more minutes as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has publicly expressed.
With David Lee on offense it'll give Steph Curry more options on the pick and roll and spread the floor. No longer will the Cavaliers be able to double-team Curry without punishment because they won't be able to leave David Lee wide open without paying for it, unlike when Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut have been left alone off the pick and roll.
When Steph Curry is rolling so are the rest of the Warriors. They feed off their MVP making plays not only on the offensive end but on the defensive side of the court as well. Steph Curry was able to get some good looks from beyond the arc on catch and shoot scenarios and in the fourth quarter of Game 3 and if that translates over to Game 4 watch out Cleveland.
If the Warriors can pull a Game 4 victory then they head back to Oracle Arena with the series tied up 2-2 and with all the momentum on their side. It may very well propel them to take advantage of their home crowd and regain control of the series.
Lose Game 4 and the Warriors have no shot of beating a LeBron James led Cleveland team three times in a row. However, win Game 4 and their back is back in the driver's seat with 2 of the final 3 games on their homecourt.