When it comes to breaking down Game 3, the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green said it succinctly.
"We were extremely soft," Green said after practice on Thursday. "We got bullied, punked, whatever word you can find for it."
Not to take anything away from Cleveland. The Cavs executed a great game plan. Like last year when they won two games in the Finals against Golden State, they came out playing smarter, grittier defense and dictated the pace.
League MVP Steph Curry couldn’t find a way to get open for quality shots. Klay Thompson had to leave the game temporarily with a Charlie horse in the first quarter and the Warriors just looked bewildered.
From there the Cavs had their way, shooting for 52.7 percent on 2’s and 48 percent on 3’s.
Sportsbooks responded by Sportsbook the Warriors as -1-point favorites for Game 4, which the public treated like a nail in a piece of wood. Shops got hammered with Cleveland money and by lunch time Friday the Cavs had moved all the way to -2.5.
As I talked about with Game 3, we want to look at what the mind set is of books here when handicapping Game 4.
I think books liked Golden State to bounce back with a better effort on Friday and I agree with that. Doesn’t mean the Warriors are going to win but I will be surprised if we don’t see a much tougher team in Game 4.
I doubt sportsbooks were surprised the public was impressed with the Cavs in Game 3 and jumped on them for Game 4 – I just don’t think they expected this much one sided action. About 65 percent of the bets are going the Cavs’ way at several books and I think the books would like to see a lot more balance here.
That’s different from Game 3 where I felt the books were happy to take on the public with the Cavs. I think we’re looking at a game that could go either way here and they’d rather not be left in such a vulnerable spot in a coin-toss game.
I’m not sure who’ll win but I believe Warriors coach Steve Kerr will have his team much more prepared for Game 4. So I’m leaning Golden State with the points but I’ll likely take a pass on the side in this one.
I do like the UNDER, though. Both games that Cleveland won in last year’s Finals slipped well below the total as they mucked up the pace and forced the Warriors to shoot worse than 40 percent from the field over the course of the two games.
We're seeing the Cavs wisely move back to that game plan and the Warriors will need to get tougher if they want to overcome again. In my view, that means fewer points in a more defensive grind on Friday and that’s why I’m going UNDER in Game 4