The Golden State Warriors have dominated Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals and are now just two wins away from earning back-to-back NBA championships. However, many experts like to say that a series never starts until someone wins on the road, and right now Golden State has merely held serve.
As the series shifts to Cleveland for the next two games, the Cavaliers will have to make some significant changes if they want to get back into the series. Game 3 is on Wednesday night at 9pm ET.
The Cavaliers have lost by an average 24 points per game through the first two contests, which is why most people are skeptical that they can win this series. The Warriors are now a -800 favorite to get the job done on the NBA series prices and they're even a 1.5-point favorite on the road in Game 3. The Cavs have been the inferior team through two games, but what can they do to make changes?
For starters, the Cavaliers' Big Three has to be more productive. Kevin Love missed the latter part of Game 2 but has just 22 points in the series on nine-of-24 shooting. As for star point guard Kyrie Irving, he has connected on 12-of-36 on the series, which includes just one-of-seven from downtown. They have to be more efficient with their shots.
But it's not just the stars that support LeBron James that have failed; the entire supporting cast has been a trainwreck. J.R. Smith, who averaged nearly four three-pointers per game through the first three rounds, has a total of two in the NBA Finals. He has just eight points in the series. Channing Frye, who at one point hit seven three-pointers in a second-round game against Atlanta, has played just nine minutes the entire series. The Cavs' bench is averaging just 20 points per game; no NBA team's bench averaged less than 25.7 points per game this season.
What has to be concerning for Cleveland is that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been minimal contributors through the first two games, yet Golden State has rolled both times. Curry, who averaged 27.9 points per game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, is averaging just 14.5 in the Finals. As for Thompson, he averaged 31.0 points per game in the second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers and 24.7 against the Thunder, but has averaged just 13.0 points per game in the Finals. Both have plenty of room for improvement.
At this point, it looks like we have a clear trend line, as through four contests this season the Cavaliers have lost to Golden State by an average score of 108.8-86.8. The Cavs failed to hit the 90-point mark in three of the four games while Golden State scored at least 104 points in three of the contests.
If there is a glimmer of hope for the Cavs, it's that Golden State has lost every Game 3 they've played this postseason. The Cavs desperately need Game 3 because it's hard to see them winning four of the final five games if they fail in this one. Even with a Game 3 win it seems like a stretch for them to beat the Warriors in four of the next six games considering how lopsided this series has been so far.