Cavs crush Warriors to get back in series

LeBron James. Photo / Getty
LeBron James. Photo / Getty

Expect conversation to centre around one player after the Cleveland Cavaliers' series-saving 120-90 Game Three win - injured forward Kevin Love.

Love missed the blowout win with concussion and is still yet to be cleared to play in Game Four on Saturday.

But if, as expected, he's available, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue faces a huge decision.

Cleveland played easily its best game of the series after Richard Jefferson was inserted into the starting lineup.

Former Warriors coach turned ESPN analyst Mark Jackson led a chorus of voices calling on Lue to keep the same starting five if Love returns.

Jackson compared the situation to Steve Kerr's decision to elevate Andre Iguodala into Golden State's starting five at the expense of Andrew Bogut in last year's finals - a move that was seen as crucial to the Warriors turning around a 2-1 deficit to win the championship in six games.

Prominent US media identities Bill Simmons and Skip Bayless were among those calling on the Cavs to move away from Love.



Asked how he will use Love if he's available in Game Four, Lue said: "Do I have to tell you? I'm not going to tell you."

LeBron James (32 points) and Kyrie Irving (30 points) more than made up for Love's absence in the one-sided contest.

The duo got going early to help the Cavs establish a 20-point first quarter lead - and while James cooled off with a 1/10 second quarter as the Warriors closed to within eight points at halftime, they reasserted their dominance in the second half.

J.R. Smith (20 points, 5/10 three-pointers) and Tristan Thompson (14 points, 13 rebounds) also played their best games of the series, while Jefferson took advantage of his increased minutes to add nine points and eight rebounds. "The guys just kept attacking all night. We never settled," Lue said.

The Warriors were a shadow of the team which dominated Games One and Two. Harrison Barnes shone with 18 points on 11 shots but Steph Curry (19 points), Klay Thompson (10 points) and Game Two hero Draymond Green (six points) failed to fire as the Warriors finished 9/33 from the three-point line.

Asked to explain the 63-point turnaround from Game Two to Game Three, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said: "This is the NBA ... As (Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich used to tell me - the other guys get paid millions of dollars to play the game too ... Every team has great talent. Every player in the NBA is a great player."

Kerr opted not to weigh into the Love decision after being asked if his absence made the Cavs a tougher match-up for the Warriors. "I think the game would have been the same whether he played or not," Kerr said.

Green echoed those thoughts. "I don't think it was much different at all. I think there's more spacing when Kevin's out there," he said. "I don't think their substitution made a big difference - their effort made the difference."


- news.com.au

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