Two things to watch in Game 3: Small ball and early screens

Two things to watch in Game 3: Small ball and early screens

The Cleveland Cavaliers have won their last eight games at home and got here again from a 2-Zero deficit in the convention finals. But they’re simply 6-6 (2-2 in the common season, Four-Four in The Finals) towards the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena over the past 4 years.

In these Finals, the group and the world won’t win Games three and Four for the Cavs. They should play higher, on each ends of the ground, than they did in Games 1 and 2.

Here are two things to search for in Game three on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

Return of the Death Lineup?

The Cavs ought to get a lift by returning residence for Game three, however the Warriors may additionally get a lift with the return of Andre Iguodala, who has missed the final six video games after struggling a bone bruise in his left knee in Game three of the Western Conference finals. Iguodala is listed as “questionable” for Game three by the Warriors.

The Warriors have been at their finest in this postseason, outscoring their opponents by 13.6 points per 100 possessions, with Iguodala on the ground. Though it hasn’t performed collectively in greater than two weeks, the Warriors’ lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green has the best raw plus-minus in the postseason, having outscored opponents by 57 factors in its 110 minutes.

The return of Iguodala may imply the return of the Death Lineup (or “Hamptons Five” or no matter you need to name it). Even if Iguodala does not return on Wednesday, the Warriors may use their next-best-thing lineup greater than they’ve up to now.

The lineup with Shaun Livingston and the Warriors’ 4 All-Stars did not play in any respect in regulation of Game 1, however was on the ground for all however the final three seconds of additional time, scoring 15 factors on Golden State’s first six possessions of the additional interval to make Cleveland pay for its late-fourth-quarter errors.

In the fourth quarter of Game 2, Warriors coach Steve Kerr went again to the Livingston lineup … for simply 32 seconds. The lineup has performed just 24 minutes in the entire postseason, all in the six video games since Iguodala’s damage.

Including that Four:57 of additional time in Game 1, the Warriors have performed only nine minutes with Green at center (with no other bigs on the floor) over the primary two video games. They’re a plus-15 in these minutes, plus-Eight in rather less than 5 minutes with Kevin Love at middle for Cleveland and plus-7 in a bit of greater than 4 minutes with Tristan Thompson at middle for Cleveland.

Early screening

One adjustment the Cavs made in Game 2 was setting screens for LeBron James earlier than he crossed the mid-court line. We first noticed it on their fifth possession of the sport, with Thompson screening Durant in the backcourt…

Tristan Thompson screen

The purpose is to get James going downhill towards Thompson’s defender. Green picked up James after that display screen above, however the Cavs’ major goal with these screens is JaVale McGee. And it labored on one second quarter possession the place McGee couldn’t contain James and tripped him. McGee survived the attack (after James lost control of his dribble) a few minutes later and the outcomes had been combined in Game 2, although the Cavs set lower than 10 of those early screens for James on Sunday.

Expect to see extra in Game three. Ideally, the Warriors would favor Durant to keep away from the display screen and get again in entrance of James, so McGee is not put in a troublesome spot. McGee provides the Warriors some vital verticality on offense, however he may not have the option to include James on the opposite finish of the ground. It was in this collection final yr when McGee’s defensive issues stored him from taking part in in Game 5.

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John Schuhmann is a workers author for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, discover his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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