The Cleveland Cavaliers might be undermanned and the underdog in the 2015 NBA Finals, but they are somewhat in control of their series with the Golden State Warriors. They stole home-court advantage on Sunday, and they’ll play in front of their home crowd in Game 3 on Tuesday night, looking to take a 2-1 series lead.
Playing without an injured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, LeBron James has willed his team to two overtime contests with the NBA’s best team. The four-time MVP is averaging 41.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game, and he’s easily outshined the 2015 MVP.
Golden State’s inability to win two games at Oracle Arena, where they had only lost three times before the start of the finals, can be largely pinned on the struggles of their best player. After scoring 26 points on 50 percent shooting in Game 1, Stephen Curry had a historically bad performance in Game 2. Curry went five-of-23 from the field, and set an NBA Finals record by missing 13 of his 15 three-point attempts.
Klay Thompson has done his part to make up for Curry’s performance, averaging 27.5 points per game in the series, but the Warriors need their top star to return to his MVP form. He’s struggled since Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals when he missed a quarter because of the brutal fall he took as he tried to block a shot. Curry has shot less than 40 percent from the field in three of his last four games.
Much of Curry’s struggles have come when being guarded by Matthew Dellavedova. When Dellavedova has been the primary defender on Curry, the MVP has scored just four points on two-of-10 shooting from the field, having committed four turnovers.
In the absence of Irving, Dellavedova has entered Cleveland’s starting lineup. After playing just nine minutes in the series opener, he was on the floor for 42 minutes in Game 2. He only made three of his 10 shot attempts, and he had six assists and just one turnover. But he played tough defense, and his two free throws in the final seconds of overtime gave the Cavs the lead for good.
Curry said after the game that Dellavedova didn’t do anything particularly special, and he expects to play better on Tuesday. But the Cavs’ point guard has played great defense all postseason.
Matthew Dellavedova has been strong in the playoffs defending opposing point guards pic.twitter.com/PQCkPFfiVv
â€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2015
Cleveland’s defense has been terrific against the No.2 offensive team in the regular season, but James is looking to get more offensive production from his supporting cast. J.R. Smith was the only Cavs' player to score off the bench in Game 1, and he’s played as poorly as anyone on the team. After making 50 percent of his shots in the previous two series, Smith is shooting 30.8 percent from the field against the Warriors.
Even though the Cavs won a game in Golden State and the series is headed to Cleveland, the Warriors are favored on the road. Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals was the only time Golden State has been an underdog in the playoffs, and they defeated the Houston Rockets by 35 points.
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Point Spread: Warriors by 1.5 points
Over/Under: 194 points
Prediction: Cleveland over Golden State, 97-95