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5 keys for the Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals

Cleveland are clear underdogs in this matchup, but what can they do to upset the reigning champs

CONTRIBUTOR
Top 5 / Top 10 01 Jun 2018, 00:21 IST
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Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Seven
Can LeBron James do the impossible in his eighth straight finals?

After being dethroned as the top of their conferences, finishing the regular season with their worst record in four years and struggling through a seven-game series in the conference finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors meet again.

Even though it didn’t go as smooth as we would have thought, this saga continues, as expected earlier in the season, to a fourth straight finals showdown.

The first two exchanges were relatively close ones. In 2015, the Cavs entered the series without Kevin Love and one game in they lost Kyrie Irving too.

Nevertheless, LeBron James by himself managed to carry the team to a respectful six-game series.

A year later, Love and Irving were healthy, but the Warriors just broke the wins record for the regular season and pulled an amazing upset the previous round, coming back from down 1-3 to win the series against the Thunder.

However, it was only the second biggest upset of the playoffs, since Cleveland did the same thing, first time ever in the finals, to win its first NBA title.

Since then Golden State added Kevin Durant, swept its way to a third finals matchup against Cleveland and won the title with ease in a five-game series.

Following this historic playoff run, teams started an arms race in order to compete with the Warriors, while the Cavs managed to drive Kyrie away, went through a midseason roster clean out and are already accused of putting up the worst supporting cast LeBron has ever had.

In order to put up a fight, let alone win it all, they will have to put special emphasis on the following stats.


#1 Golden State third quarter

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
Steph Curry played especially well in the third quarter

But these numbers increased even more against the Rockets. The reigning champs scored on average 31.6 points, shooting 54.7% from the field and 54.4% from three. Those resounding numbers were crucial to the Warriors qualification to the finals, mainly because of their poor start in the first half of most games.

If regular season stats didn’t prove it enough, the series against Houston in the conference finals definitely sealed the fact that Golden State is the best third quarter team in the NBA. The Warriors lead the league with 30.2 points, 52% from the field and 43% from three in the third quarter while leading by an average of 4.5 points.

Scoring and shooting averages were significantly lower in the first two-quarters of games in that series in comparison to the third.

The Warriors even lost the first half of the last two "win-or-go-home" games by at least 10 points, only to completely destroy Houston in the successive quarter.

If the Cavs believe they can beat the odds, holding Golden State off in the third quarter is their starting point.

The Warriors won only 14 of 32 games this season, playoffs and regular season, in which they lost this quarter.

Cleveland's best chance to do that is to have fresh legs on the court. Ty Lue needs to consider expanding the rotation in the first half in order to avoid wearing out his players.

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