The time is almost near Cleveland, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors tip off in just a few short hours at “The Q” for Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals. With the Cavaliers stealing home court advantage with a victory in Game 2, the series is knotted up at 1-1 with the next two games being played on the Cavaliers home court.
Some national pundits have deemed this a trap game of sorts for LeBron James and the Cavaliers, stating that the Warriors will come out with a vengeance of sorts after losing on Sunday night. Most point to the atrocious shooting performance of point guard, Steph Curry, as a reason for hope for the Warriors—since it is unlikely he will shoot that poorly again.
Since this is Cleveland and the fans are rooting for a Wine and Gold winner tonight, let’s ignore those national pundits for the next five or so minutes. Instead, let’s look at three reasons why the Cavaliers will win Game 3—thus taking a 2-1 series lead in the process.
Shooter Friendly Rims at The Q
The Cavaliers are coming off a shooting performance of 32 percent from the field in their Game 2 win—something pretty much unheard of in NBA history for the winning team. During the playoffs, the Cavaliers as a team have shot 40.6 percent from the field on the road (stats via ESPN splits) and 34.4 percent from three-point land. Fans had the privilege of seeing the proverbial bucket on the rim during Games 1 and 2, however that could change in a big way come Tuesday and Thursday night.
Thanks to the friendly confines of their home court, the Cavaliers are shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three-point land in seven total home playoff games. Though previously stating he enjoys playing on the road, James shoots at a much higher percentage in Cleveland—going 45.9 percent from the floor versus 39.8 percent on the road.
Iman Shumpert is another player who seems to feed off the energy of the home court. On the road, Shumpert has posted 33.8 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from three-point land. However, those percentages shoot up to 42.2 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point land when playing in Cleveland.
Now, this does not mean the Golden State Warriors are going to suddenly play less defense. But with the crowd on the Cavs side, the numbers do not lie—expect better shooting out of the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Get Ready to Light Up the Scoreboard—for the Cavaliers
On the heels of the better shooting performance at home is a massive point differential in the favor of the good guys this offseason. According to ESPN stats, the Cavaliers are averaging 106.9 points at home per game while giving up just 93.6. That is a massive differential of 13.3 points per game on their home court.
With the Cavaliers shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three-point land compared to 41.3 percent and 28.2 percent from their opponents, the scoreboard operators at The Q could have their hands full on Tuesday night. If fans still received free Chalupas for 100 points scored, they could look to grab one on the way home tonight.
LeBron James, Of Course
As if you doubted this would be the third one on the list—the Cleveland Cavaliers have the greatest player on the planet playing in an NBA Finals game on his home court for the first time since 2007. After leaving Cleveland without a ring, James returned home in search of No. 3 this past offseason—and he is now three victories shy of bringing the city its first professional sports championship since 1964.
Removing the historical significance of tonight’s game, James has been a monster at home this offseason. Against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, James put up 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 3 and 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in Game 4 on 50 percent shooting.
In fact, some of James’ most efficient shooting nights have come at home in the playoffs. He shot 44.4 percent and 50 percent in two games against Boston, 40.9 percent, 44.8 percent and 58.3 percent against Chicago and then 37.8 percent and 50 percent against Atlanta. With three games of 50-plus percent at home and only one (Game 3 against Boston) on the road, home is definitely where James’ efficiency is.
As the Cleveland Cavaliers get set to take the court at 9 p.m. tonight, all of Cleveland is feeling pretty good after stealing one from the Warriors. With Golden State playing across the country at a time of the night they are not used to, Game 3 is a prime opportunity for the Cavaliers to put up a big one in this series.
Cavaliers win, 105-93