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Here’s how Cleveland beats Golden State in the NBA Finals

Isaiah Ramirez, Contributor

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For the fourth year in a row it will be the Golden State Warriors taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA championship, but the road to get here was quite different for both teams coming into the title game. Both the Warriors and the Cavaliers are coming off a conference series that went seven games and were filled with drama and clutch moments.

For the Cavaliers, round four might be the toughest yet, and will take a lot of determination to dethrone the defending champs. With game one starting Thursday, May 31, here are five things Cleveland must do if they want to capture their second championship in three years.

Defend the Splash Brothers

It’s easier said than done, but if the Cavs can halt the lights-out shooting of the Warriors and crack down on two of the best shooters in the world—maybe even all-time —in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, their chances of beating this monster of a team increases. Curry is shooting well, as always, and we all know in the third quarter as of late in these playoffs the basket seems to get bigger for the first-ever unanimous league MVP, but if the Cavs can somehow slow his momentum coming off a stellar Western Conference Finals, it could fix one of the key issues.

The two-headed sharp shooting of Klay and Steph is dangerous and can strike at anytime, especially Thompson, who shot 42 percent last year from the 3-point line in the 2017 Finals, as Curry shot 38 percent from the three and averaged 26 points a game.

LeBron has a repeat of the 2016 Finals

LeBron James is probably having the greatest playoff performance in recent memory and is further cementing his status as one of the league’s all-time greats, but for the Cavs to come out on top, James is going to have to kick his game into overdrive. Back in 2016 when Cleveland won its first major pro championship in 52 years and overcame a 3-1 deficit, LeBron led both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Currently in these playoffs, James is averaging 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game, and will most likely have to turn in another Superman-like performance in these finals in order to avoid another loss in the finals to his Kryptonite that is the Golden State Warriors.

Supporting Cast Step Up

The fact that there’s obviously not much help for LeBron makes the task of beating Golden State much more difficult. In the Eastern Conference Finals, there were some instances of some good effort from the likes of George Hill, who averaged 9 points per game in the ECF and is shooting 49 percent from the field this postseason, and Tristan Thompson, who had a respectable game seven against the Celtics with a near double-double (10 points, and 9 rebounds).

If the Cavs want to be victorious, the supporting cast must contribute tremendously, not have any cold streaks and have to play a beneficial part in the teams play, while not being a liability

Slow the Momentum Of Kevin Durant

In the 2017 Finals, the major story was the tremendous play of Kevin Durant who was named the MVP of the Finals and captured his first championship. Durant averaged 35 points a game in the 2017 Finals and at times seemed unguardable. In the 2018 postseason thus far, Durant is averaging 29 points per game to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Once Durant was added to this already star-studded team, the defensive scheme was complicated even more. Not only must the Warriors defend Steph, Klay and Draymond Green, but now for the second year in a row they must have to deal with the former league MVP and the six-time All-NBA First team selection in Kevin Durant. It won’t be an easy assignment to deal with, but if the Cavs can force Durant to take as many contested shots as possible and make him as uncomfortable as definitely possible, lots of stress can be lifted off this already stressful team.

Cavaliers Defense Must be Evident

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not necessarily known for their defensive abilities and that shows as they were ranked 29th in defensive efficiency in the regular season, as opposed to the Warriors, who rank first in defensive efficiency in the postseason. There are going to be some matchup difficulties with George Hill having to defend Steph Curry and J.R. Smith having to guard Klay Thompson, but if Cleveland can provided as much pressure as they can, they might be able to slow down the Warriors. The Cavs’ defense has improved as of late, where they have allowed 3.6 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did during the regular season. With the Warriors having the fire power to expand a lead at any given moment, the defense of the Cavs must be one of their strong skills if they want to be victorious.

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