CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to tie the NBA Finals at two games apiece, as long as they protect home court once more Friday night against the Golden State Warriors.
Here are five things to watch for.
1) Home sweet home
Teams have played very well at home throughout the playoffs, and home court advantage was crucial to the Cavaliers winning Game 3. The team fed off incredible energy from the 20,562 at the "Q" and steamrolled the Warriors, beating the defending champions by 30. And it was no fluke. The Cavs' average margin of victory at the "Q" in these playoffs has been 22 points. They'll need to take advantage of the home cookin' again Friday, because if they don't win Game 4, well, the win in Game 3 won't matter.
2) Love on the rocks
Or maybe I should leave it at "Love on the bench." We all know the top story the past two days: Kevin Love misses Game 3 with a concussion, Richard Jefferson starts in his place, the Cavaliers are quicker, more athletic, and better defensively, and they jump on the Warriors and never let up. All of that is true. It's also true that they wouldn't be in this position without Kevin Love, so go easy on the power forward. With that said, the Cavs may have been forced, thanks to Love's concussion, into a lineup change that works, much like the Warriors in last year's Finals, when they finally started Andre Iguodala in the middle of the series, and turned everything around. At the very least, the Cavs need to find out. Stick with RJ in the starting lineup, bring Kevin off the bench if he's ready, and go from there. They cannot afford to lose that Game 3 momentum.
3) Get defensive
Do you remember LeBron's incredible alley-oop in the third quarter of Game 3 that brought the house down and put the Cavs up 20? Of course you do, but you probably also remember that it came off of a steal. The Cavs' smothering defense had everything to do with their reinvigorated offense. They need to bring that same intensity and physicality tonight.
4) Splish splash
It may be hard to believe, but three games in, the "Splash Brothers" have yet to be the story in this series. In Game 1 it was the Warriors bench. In Game 2, Draymond Green. Game 3? All Cavaliers. At some point, one has to believe either Curry or Klay is going to going off. The Cavs just can't allow both to come alive.
The Cavaliers played like a team fighting for its playoff life in Game 3. They must match that again in Game 4. A loss wipes out the benefit of winning Game 3, and holding serve on your own court. It would force the Cavs to win three straight, with two of those games at Oracle Arena. A win in Game 4, however, may prove that the Cavs have figured out the formula to beat these guys. If that's the case, anything's possible heading back to Oakland for Game 5 on Monday.
Download the Cleveland 19 News app.