We are three games through the 2016 NBA Finals and one word springs to mind when thinking about this series. Inconsistency. Both teams can now boast blowouts in the win column so far. With Cleveland’s 120-90 triumph in game 3 it appears that both teams are taking night off, which is hard to believe being that this is the finals. One thing is clear though. When the Cavs come out from the tip with energy and effort, their overall level of play is very formidable. With Kevin Love out because of concussion protocol, the Cavs went to a smaller, quicker lineup by inserting Richard Jefferson into the starting lineup in game 3. More so than the 62 points put up by LeBron and Kyrie combined, that move proved to be the igniter for a team that was clearly being outplayed, out hustled and out executed in the first two games of this series.

 

What needs to happen in game 4

 

It would be easy for me to say, that Cleveland simply needs to repeat what they did in game 3 for them to win but its much more to it than that. This is the NBA Finals folks and nothing is that simple. Golden State didn’t win 73 games and are the defending champions just from shooting more threes than everyone else. They make the right adjustments arguably better than any other team in the league. Only way game 4 has a similar outcome as game 3 for Cleveland is if they continue to make life difficult for Steph Curry. If Curry comes out with the same non-existent effort that he showed in that game then Cleveland will also be in great shape. He is the unanimous MVP so I will give him the respect, of expecting that he will come out and play better tonight.  However, with all the good things that the Cavs did well last game, they have definitely found a recipe for success. My main keys to a game 4 win for the Cavaliers are:

 

  1. Energy, Energy, and more Energy
  2. Maintain the defensive blueprint for the Splash Brothers
  3. Get JR going
  4. Interior defense
  5. Limit turnovers

 

 

Now the major question for Cleveland, heading into game four is how to use Kevin Love if he is available to play. From everything that I am hearing, he will definitely be a go for tonight. However, the real question going around is do you start him or have him come off the bench as your $113 million sixth man? Initially, I suggest that Coach Lue starts him but still give Jefferson the same playing time that he had last game. After letting that marinate I now feel that for the Cavs to have the best opportunity to take game 4, Love will need to come off the bench. From a pace standpoint it’s a fact that Jefferson allows the team to be much quicker on offense and rotate better on defense. Jefferson’s energy and versatility was on full display last game and Cleveland will need even more of that tonight if they are to win game 4.

 

Coach Lue knows his personnel and he also knows basketball. If he wants the best chance to win, starting Jefferson of Love should be a given against a team such as Golden State. Going big or staying small is one of those situational decisions that can make or break a series.

 

My prediction for game for is Cleveland 108-100. This game should be much closer than last but the energy from the home crowd should be enough added fuel the Cavs need to come out on top.

 

~Ray Simpson

 

 

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