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Warriors vs Cavaliers Game 3: Can LeBron Summon Another Superhuman Effort?

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Jun 5, 2018 · 9:28 AM PDT

LeBron James goes in for a layup.
LeBron James faces a virtual must-win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Photo by Leah Klafczynski/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire
  • The Cavaliers are facing a virtual must-win against the Warriors
  • Stephen Curry is angling for his first Finals MVP
  • Can LeBron James summon another game-changing effort in Game 3?

Wednesday’s Game 3 is as close to a must-win as you can get for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who return home trailing the powerhouse Golden State Warriors 2-0 in the NBA Finals.

The Cavs, still shaken from a Game 1 overtime loss – spoiling a spectacular 51-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist mega performance from LeBron James – witnessed another historic performance in Game 2.

This was delivered by Stephen Curry, who went absolutely nuclear from deep. Just two games in, and the two-time league MVP is the early front-runner for his first Finals MVP.

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An added layer to the beat down mix – Golden State reserves Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee were unstoppable. Like, literally. They combined to go 11-11 from the field.

Plus, each of the Warriors’ All-Stars delivered at an elite level, as the dam finally broke in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland was sunk.

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As per usual, LeBron James was the constant, but a 29-point, 13-assist, nine-rebound performance – considered by about 90% of the NBA to be a career night – seemed absolutely pedestrian.

Such is the plight of the best player of his generation: where a superhuman effort doesn’t guarantee a win, but just a chance to compete.

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Warriors vs Cavaliers Team Playoff Stats


111.5 Offensive Rating 107.4
110.6 Points 101.9
26.1 Assists 19.1
47.9 Field-Goal Percentage 45.7
35.6 Three-Point Percentage 33.5
+9.4 Plus/Minus -0.4


100.7 Defensive Rating 107.8
101.2 Points 102.3
+2.7 Rebounding Differential +1.0
-0.6 Turnover Differential +0.7
42.7 Field-Goal Percentage 46.5
31.5 Three-Point Percentage 34.5
40.5 Points In The Paint 41.7

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2018 NBA Finals Head-to-Head Results

Date Location Score Winner
June 3 – NBA Finals Game 2 GS 122-103 GS
May 31 – NBA Finals Game 1 GS 124-114 OT GS

Notable Injuries and Absences

Warriors Cavaliers
Andre Iguodala (knee): QUESTIONABLE No injuries

 Game 3 Moneyline Pick: Cavaliers (106-98)

In the last 33 NBA Finals, teams that take a 2-0 lead boast a 29-4 series record. The most recent team to overcome that mark en route to victory? The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.

To even consider reaching those heights again, Cleveland is going to have to shoot the hell out of the basketball. In the playoffs, they’re drilling triples at nearly a 38% clip in their wins, and a paltry 27.8% in their losses.

If you’ve been watching the NBA Finals and thought that the Cavaliers have missed an inordinate amount of shots from LeBron James setups, the numbers back it up. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the “others” are just 8-32 (25%) from distance off James passes in the series, and just 5-16 (31%) when the attempt is uncontested.

In the last 33 NBA Finals, teams that take a 2-0 lead boast a 29-4 series record. The most recent team to overcome that mark en route to victory? The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.

Improvement is necessary, but good luck: the Warriors are especially stingy guarding their orange tin, leading the NBA playoffs in three-point shooting (31.5%) and field goal percentage (42.7%) defense.

Golden State, criticized throughout the playoffs for a general lack of consistency and states of boredom, are completely locked in in the Finals, an offensive machine brutalizing the Cavaliers.

Six of their seven players in their rotation shot better than 50% from the field in Game 2, and the only one who didn’t was Curry, who only set the Finals record for made threes in a game.

Cleveland must defend better to have a chance. They’ll also need to gain a rebounding advantage like the +15 they had in Game 1, rather than the +1 they had in Game 2.

Expect James to deliver an inspired big game, controlling tempo and pace like no other, and giving his team a chance to steal a win.

Team Trends

Warriors Cavaliers
Golden State is 33-16 SU on the road Cleveland is 37-13 SU at home
Golden State is 7-3 SU in its last ten games Cleveland is 5-5 SU in its last ten games
Golden State is 31-11 SU as road favorite Cleveland is 2-2 SU as home underdog
Golden State is 27-43-1 ATS after a win Cleveland is 13-25-1 ATS after a loss
Golden State is 43-57-1 ATS this season (43.0%) Cleveland is 40-61-1 ATS this season (39.6%)
Golden State is 22-27-0 ATS at home Cleveland is 17-32-1 ATS at home
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