Cavs vs Warriors: NBA Finals 2017, What to watch

Cavs vs Warriors: NBA Finals (6 p.m., ABC; 9 p.m. ET): Just call it the Three-match. Hoop dreams are on the line as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meet for the third straight year in the league’s championship series. It’s the first time in NBA history that such a trilolgy has happened. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson call the action, while Doris Burke patrols the sidelines. Games 1 and 2 (Sunday) are in Oakland.

“Nashville” (10 p.m., CMT): Rayna James may be dead and gone, but the show somehow goes on. As the series returns from a midseason break, Deacon helps Daphne with a school project, but Daphne feels unmotivated. Elsewhere, Juliette gives Maddie unsolicited advice about a song, and Scarlett and Gunnar receive news about the baby.

“The Amazing Race” (10 p.m., CBS): Whew. After nine countries, 17 cities and 36,000 miles, the 29th season of the reality competition comes to a dramatic close as the remaining globetrotters close in on the finish line and a chance to capture $1 million. What they’ll really need are a good massage and a very long nap.
Also on Thursday:

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“Beat Shazam” (8 p.m., Fox)

“This Old House Hour” (8 p.m., PBS)

“Dolphins of Shark Bay” (8 p.m., Nat Geo)

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (8:30 p.m PT, ABC)

“Love Connection” (9 p.m., Fox)

“The First 48” (9 p.m., A&E)

1. The Cavs Have The Best Player

See this article on LeBron. Even when LeBron loses, he wins. That is greatness. For all the analytics, predictors, oddsmakers, etc. the NBA Finals tend to be decided by the best player. Since 2010, you could squint and see the best player winning the NBA Championship in six of the seven series—and even that is debatable considering the way Kawhi Leonard played offensively and defensively in that 2014 matchup against the Miami Heat.
2016 Cleveland Cavaliers 4-3 Golden State Warriors LeBron James
2015 Golden State Warriors 4-2 Cleveland Cavaliers Stephen Curry
2014 San Antonio Spurs 4-1 Miami Heat LeBron James
2013 Miami Heat 4-3 San Antonio Spurs LeBron James
2012 Miami Heat 4-1 Oklahoma City Thunder LeBron James
2011 Dallas Mavericks 4-2 Miami Heat Dirk Nowitzki
2010 Los Angeles Lakers 4-3 Boston Celtics Kobe Bryant

Would anyone argue that LeBron James is not the best player in the world right now? No, they wouldn’t.

2. Kevin Love + Tristan Thompson Rebounding

For all the talk about the mismatches that the Golden State Warriors lineup creates, they are predominantly a perimeter team. Their 19.8 drives (to the basket) per game illustrate that point. The Warriors want to push the tempo of the game. They look to move the ball, run the court and exploit mismatches at any chance they get. Because of this, the Warriors prefer to have Draymond Green on the floor as a “Center” in order to maximize their style of play offensively and defensively.

One need only look to the minutes per game played in the postseason for confirmation of that point. The Warriors players, who have logged the most minutes per game during this postseason run, are (in order): Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala. No traditional centers in their top five. You would have to go nine deep in terms of minutes per game before finding a traditional center who has logged significant minutes for the Warriors during the playoffs (Warriors Postseason Minutes).

Cleveland can exploit this. While leaving Love and Thompson on the floor could pose some defensive matchup problems, it can also create some opportunities for the Cavs to grab more rebounds and control the game. The Warriors grabbed only 69.1% of available defensive rebounds in their matchup against the Spurs—a team similar to the Cavs in their ability to play with two skilled big men. The Warriors rebounding percentage was the worst of any team in the conference finals—in either conference.

Cavs vs Warriors, Cavs vs Warriors live, Cavs vs Warriors live stream, Cavaliers, Warriors, Cavaliers vs Warriors Finals, Warriors vs Cavs, 2017 NBA Finals.

Finally, Tristan Thompson has grabbed at least seven offensive rebounds in a game three times this postseason. Look for that trend to continue against the Warriors.

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