Thursday, June 08, 2017

Pre-Game Four

Even apart from being down three games to none, the Cavs are in a tight spot for the fourth game.  LeBron James played major minutes again in the third game, with an aggressive first half going to the hoop and shooting threes.  But he ceded the third to Kyrie and was pretty obviously gassed in the crucial fourth.  Now he's facing a closeout game for Golden State two days later, the least amount of rest in the playoffs.

That James and Kyrie carried the scoring meant other players were less involved, and that also came back to haunt them in the fourth quarter.  So the logical strategy for the next game is for James to get everybody involved early, and save more of himself for the fourth quarter.

But in that third game, without his first half scoring, the game would probably not have been close in the fourth.  So what is the strategy?  Down 3-0, the Cavs might start thinking about the long term, about keeping LeBron healthy and not using him up, even with the long off-season ahead.  But LeBron himself is likely to be especially competitive about not being swept.

So will we see LeBron come out scoring, or distributing? Maybe distributing to start.  Obviously how the game is going will be a major factor.  If the Warriors do what they've done in previous close-out games this year--get a big lead right away--then chances are LeBron will get more rest in this game.

On the Warriors side, all the talk has been about KD and Steph.  Some see them as potential co-MVPs though most observers tip the balance to Durant.  But the fourth game could see two other heroes: Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.  Green has been trying to be careful, although he's been in foul trouble anyway.  He might be more obviously active Friday, and put up big numbers.

As for Thompson, I was impressed that in his postgame interview on Wednesday he kept talking about Friday, what they needed to do on Friday.  He was (in the phrase they all use) "locked in."  Only Curry ventured to evaluate Wednesday's game historically.  So given Thompson's breakout from his shooting slump, he may have one of his monster games on Friday.  If the Warriors don't suffer a letdown, it's hard to see how the Cavs win a game, if they couldn't win Wednesday.

No comments: