NBA Finals Game 4 betting preview: Can Warriors bounce back from blowout loss vs. Celtics?
As we predicted ahead of Wednesday's Game 3, the Celtics answered a blowout loss with a huge victory at home to take a 2-1 series lead over the Warriors. Can Golden State respond in a similar fashion in Game 4?
Here's how we're betting Friday's contest:
For a moment, it looked like the Warriors might be alright again after a blowout win in Game 2, which forced oddsmakers to price them as slim series favorites. So the Celtics did what they've done so well throughout this postseason: they adjusted.
After a turnover-fueled loss Sunday, Boston turned it over just 12 times Wednesday, limiting Golden State's opportunities in transition and forcing it to score in the half court. As we've seen all series long, that didn't go so well for the Dubs, who've now shot below 50% from the floor in all three games.
That's been the formula for Boston all postseason: Protect the ball and force other teams to beat its set defense. The Celtics are 0-5 when turning it over at least 16 times, as they did in Game 2. When they don't? They're 14-2, outscoring opponents by 10.9 points per game.
So how do the Warriors turn things around in Game 4? The best way is with tenacious defense, but that's easier said than done when the Celtics have so many weapons that can force their hand. In Game 3, Boston had three players with at least 24 points - Jaylen Brown (27), Jayson Tatum (26), and Marcus Smart (24) - and all three made at least three triples and five free throws.
If those three aren't turning it over, it'll be tough for the Warriors' defense to slow them down. Can they simply keep pace offensively? That's a tough ask, too. Stephen Curry had another magical third quarter to fuel his game-high 31 points, marking the third time in as many games that he's led all scorers. Klay Thompson came alive, too, erupting for 25 points with five made 3-pointers.
Still, it wasn't enough. Those two attempted half of Golden State's shots, while the supporting cast combined for just 44 points on 43.6% shooting. That includes a brutal showing from Draymond Green, who had more fouls (six) than he did points (two), rebounds (four), or assists (three).
Curry's injury late in the fourth quarter could linger into Game 4, which puts even more pressure on his teammates to step up in a way they simply haven't in these Finals. That's of even greater importance considering Smart held the Warriors' Big Three to just seven points on 53 possessions and will almost certainly be tasked with limiting those players again Friday.
Sure, we could see Golden State roar back in a similar fashion to how the Celtics did in Game 3. But Boston is the more complete team in this series and had a documented history of erasing losses this postseason with blowout wins. I don't see the Warriors pulling off the same feat at TD Garden on Friday.
Pick: Celtics -4