The Cleveland Cavaliers have battled attrition and fatigue in order to take a 2-1 lead against the perceived favorite Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The way that the Cavs have gone about defeating the Warriors is the correct way; play tenacious defense, be physical, make “The Splash Brothers” uncomfortable on the offensive end, and make the Warriors works hard on every offensive set.
The Cavaliers have been able to execute that type of defensive game plan because of the relentless effort of the entire team, but in particular the defensive exploits of Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova in the backcourt.
Stephen Curry went through a two-game stretch where he shot 6 of 29 before finding his stroke in the latter stages of Game 3 and shoot 9 of 14 down the stretch.
Curry may have finished 10 of 20 from the floor including 7 of 13 from three-point land for 27 points, but every shot he put up was under duress with a hint of doubt on every follow through.
The same goes for Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson who was 6 of 16 from the floor in Game 3 and finished with 14 points in the contest.
Cleveland has executed a defensive plan that disrupts both Curry and Thompson when they come off of every screen they take with the dribble, or come off of without the ball in their offensive sets.
With Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes both becoming bricklayers in the process, the Cavs have officially gotten into the Warriors’ head.
Nothing has been comfortable for “The Splash Brothers” and that is why the Cavaliers are halfway to getting their first championship in franchise history.
Outside of battling “The Splash Brothers”, Cleveland has had to battle the injury bug.
The injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are well-documented. However, the Cavs dodged a major bullet by almost losing Iman Shumpert to a shoulder injury when he got popped on a screen by Warriors’ power forward Draymond Green.
Initially you had to think that he might have had a separated shoulder by the way he was clutching it as he left the court.
But according to a report from cbssports.com, David Blatt let everyone know that it was simply a bruise.
Bruises can be painful initially, but you can play through the pain and eventually become numb to it.
This is huge for the already shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs also had a slight scare from Matthew Dellavedova who was hospitalized because of cramping and dehydration after the game.
But he was released from the hospital and will be able to continue to become a Cleveland cult hero on Thursday night.
Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward David Lee (10) during the fourth quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Both Shumpert and Dellavedova have been instrumental in the overall defense that has stifled the Warriors and held the best offensive team in the NBA to under 100 points the last two games.
Cleveland’s formula for beating Golden State is real simple when you think about it.
They have trapped Stephen Curry when he comes across halfcourt, forcing him to give up the ball and move places he does not want to go one the court.
The Cavs have also stayed in the hip pocket of both Curry and Thompson making sure they do not get passes in rhythm and are in their face to contest any shots taken.
This is the formula to snuffing out an offense that runs on precision like a Swiss time piece; throw some monkey-wrenches in the works and watch the entire mechanism malfunction.
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Game 4 is critical for both teams. Cleveland can make life a lot easier for themselves if they win Game 4 and go up 3-1.
They would have three games to finish the deal against the Warriors with one more home game to play in Game 6.
The Warriors are virtually playing for their championship life. If they don’t figure out a way to get back on track quickly, this series could be over in their minds before it is done on paper.
Game 4 will be played at 9 PM ET on ABC.