Many considered the Golden State Warriors to be crowned the NBA Champions after winning game 1 in which Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured left knee cap, but since that moment LeBron James has been metaphorically prying the Larry O'Brien trophy from the Warriors weakening grip almost single handedly.
While the series is slipping, the mighty Golden State Warriors have still yet to fall. It is easy to sit back on the couch and say the Warriors are getting out hustled by the likes of Matthew Dellavedova or complain that that Lebron James is obtaining (and dodging) the superstar calls. Whatever ingredients make up the Cavs victory potion, the outcome has been the same. Out of all the talking heads telling us what is wrong with the Warriors, Kobe Bryant has simply put it the best.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Cavs playing as if their life is on the line G.S playing as if they have more <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAFinals?src=hash">#NBAFinals</a> down the line <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThisIsNOW?src=hash">#ThisIsNOW</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/competitionIsEverything?src=hash">#competitionIsEverything</a></p>— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) <a href="https://twitter.com/kobebryant/status/608488503500873728">June 10, 2015</a></blockquote>
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THIS IS NOW. I am not suggesting that the Warriors are not competing, rather just getting out competed.
The Warriors lack of experience and urgency have contributed to their current 2-1 series deficit, not to mention the sickening amount of head hanging and sulking after missed shots and calls that do not go their way. The Cavs are going out and taking the Warriors lunch money every game with their physical play, and when compounded with the Warriors poor body language LeBron James suddenly turns into a shark that senses blood in the water.
The Cavs are apparently playing with such grit and intensity that even slide tackles are now legal.
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LeBron and his goons have put shackles on the Warriors offense thus far, but it is not if the Warriors can break free rather it is when. Steph Curry finally looked like his MVP self (outside of some late bonehead turnovers) in the second half of game 3, and I am sure all of Dubnation is praying that his hot 4th quarter performance will carry over into games 4, 5 and 6.
Regardless, the Warriors (minus-155 moneyline) still enter game 4 as three point favorites on the road over the Cleveland Cavaliers (plus-135 moneyline) according to Bovada Sportsbook. The under has been a lock all series, and continues to look like a solid bet for game 4 with the line being set at 194.
Just a couple of things to consider heading into game 4:
This series is far from over as one win would give the Warriors plenty of momentum to take back with them to Oakland. We started to see the Cavs wear down ever so slightly in game 3 with Dellavedova suffering from fatigue and Shumpert temporarily sitting with shoulder pain.
Will the Dubs depth eventually grind the Cavs into a fine dust? Can David Lee continue to provide a spark that will ignite the Warriors bench? Will Draymond Green's back continue to spasm like Harrison Barnes' jump shot in game 3? Has Timofey Mosgov mastered the art of verticality?
This is what it is all about folks, game 4 of the NBA Finals.