Game 3 of the NBA Finals is upon us and it looks like we are going to see a tug-of-war for the Larry O’Brien trophy from hereon out.
From what transpired in Game 2, Toronto have played well enough to give them a shot but Golden State simply used one quarter of immaculate basketball and then hold on the rest of the way.
That said, adjustments will be made from both sides to increase their chances of wrangling the series away from the other. We will probably see more of what worked in Game 2 for both sides and probably a gimmicky defense here and there.
In a nutshell, here are three things to expect in NBA Finals Game 3.
1.) Toronto being more aggressive
The Raptors are at their best when guys like Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Kyle Lowry look for their shots within the flow of their offense instead of just dumping the ball to Kawhi Leonard and ask him to create.
Siakam, the Game 1 MVP, brutally regressed to the mean after a 32-point performance, shooting 1-for-11 from outside the paint in Game 2 and finishing with 12 points. Gasol was good for only six points after a masterful Game 1 performance where he dropped 20. Lowry fouled out with almost four minutes remaining and was only good for 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry noted that the Raptors has seen slightly better quality shots in Game than in Game 1 but simply couldn’t make them. While that may be true for some measure, anyone who has picked up a basketball will agree that sometimes an “attacking” mindset is the line between making and breaking a shot. Simply put, if you’re not aggressive enough, the easy shots sometimes would not fall.
2.) Gimmicky Defenses
In the NBA Finals, surprises rarely work. Keyword: RARE.
In an act of desperation (or a stroke of genius), Nick Nurse turned to a box-and-one in an effort to stop the Steph Curry and the Warriors from wrapping the game up at the five-minute mark.
And hey, it worked! I mean, almost, yeah, but it only allowed three points at the time it was employed. If Andre Iguodala did not hit that three, Toronto would have a chance to win the game.
So will we see the box-and-one in Game 3? I don’t know what Nurse is thinking, but it deserves a chance. Draymond Green vowed to “dice” it when it comes up again, but hey, doesn’t hurt to try.
Speaking of gimmick defenses, the Warriors had one up their sleeve which Brian Windhorst noticed.
Steve Kerr and Nick Nurse are working hard trying to surprise each other. In Game 1, Kerr threw a defensive scheme Nurse had never seen the Warriors use, a gimmick defense aimed at Kawhi Leonard. Called the “switch-then-blitz,” the Warriors tried to bait Leonard and the Raptors into one read, only to flip into another scheme, trapping Leonard when he wasn’t prepared.
3.) Still No Kevin Durant
KD is an absolute luxury for the Warriors but he’s not the cheat code everyone thinks he is. Sure, he tilts the series completely in Golden State’s favor if he steps on the court but it’s not happening at least in Game 3.
It’s a good thing that the gamble that the Warriors took in signing DeMarcus Cousins is paying off handsomely at the right time. He gives them an additional weapon that can create plays all over the floor while being at least a neutral on defense.
Boogie’s role has suddenly become very crucial with Kevon Looney out for the rest of the Finals. It’s unfortunate but with Andrew Bogut in there, this could become a blessing in disguise for Golden State.
Featured Image: (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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