2016-NBA-Play offs-Finals-Crucial game 4 preview

NBA Finals
Tip-off: Friday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Cleveland -2.0, Total: 206.5

The Cavaliers will be hoping to even up the series when they host the Warriors in Game 4 on Friday.

Golden State looked like it was heading towards a sweep over Cleveland after Games 1 and 2, but the Cavaliers responded in a big way in their first home game. The Cavs won 120-90 as 1.5-point favorites in Game 3, shooting 52.7% from the floor and holding the Warriors to just 42.1% shooting. It was a huge step forward for Cleveland, as Golden State had shot 49.4% in Game 1 and 54.3% in Game 2.

The Warriors aren’t going to hang their heads though. Golden State is a remarkable 11-3 ATS when revenging a loss versus an opponent this season and 21-8 ATS revenging a road loss versus an opponent over the past two seasons. The Warriors should be feeling confident heading into this one. The Cavaliers, however, are 19-8 ATS when playing only their second game in five days this season. They know they need to tie this thing up, so there will still be plenty of desperation when the ball tips on Friday.

The Warriors are at full strength heading into this one, but the Cavaliers do have PF Kevin Love (Concussion) listed on the injury report. He suffered a concussion in Game 2 that forced him to miss Game 3, but he is expected to get clearance in time to play in this one.

The Warriors looked like they were untouchable after Games 1 and 2 in this series, but they now find themselves in a tough situation in Game 4. Golden State can pretty much end this series by winning on the road on Friday, but a loss would mean that the teams would be tied heading back to Oracle for Game 5.

If the Warriors are going to win this game then PG Stephen Curry (24.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) is going to need to play well. He has been absolutely nonexistent in this series, averaging just 16.0 PPG on 43.6% shooting from the floor and 40.0% shooting from three. He’s also averaging a miserable 5.0 TOPG in the series. Curry has lacked the quickness that he had during the regular season and a lot of that might have to do with him having a banged up knee. He will, however, need to overcome that and play like the superstar he is moving forward.

SG Klay Thompson (24.1 PPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs) and PF Draymond Green (15.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) will also need to be a lot better for Golden State in Game 4. They combined to shoot just 6-for-21 from the field in Game 3 and the Warriors can’t have their top three players performing that poorly on Friday.

The Cavaliers are coming off of a momentum shifting victory on Wednesday and SF LeBron James (24.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 2.2 SPG in playoffs) was unstoppable in that one. James had 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal in 40 minutes of action in Game 3. He was 14-for-26 from the floor and will need to bring that same aggressiveness into this game on Friday. James is at his best when he is putting pressure on the defense, so he can’t be too satisfied with finding his teammates in this one.

It’d also be big if PG Kyrie Irving (23.9 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) goes off for Cleveland again on Friday. He had 30 points and eight assists in Game 3, badly outplaying Steph Curry on both ends of the floor. If he can continue to win that matchup then the Cavaliers just might be able to take control of this series.

The presence of PF Kevin Love (16.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG in playoffs) could be the most interesting story coming into this one. Cleveland played a lot better with Love off the floor in Game 3 and it’s possible that he will come off the bench on Friday. Love must knock down some shots from the outside in this game or Cleveland will be in worse shape with him on the floor.