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Golden State Warriors need to prove they have the firepower to win series in Game 4

Every game of the NBA Finals is live on Sky Sports: Watch Warriors @ Celtics – Game 4, live on Sky Sports Arena & Main Event, on Friday night from 1.45am followed by a repeat on Sky Sports Action from 8am

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After the Boston Celtics won Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals, do the Golden State Warriors have what it takes to square the series?

It's onto Game 4 in the NBA Finals and one of the great joys or frustrations of being a basketball fan are the "hot takes" you see based on the first three games.

According to some of the coverage and hyperbole online the Golden State Warriors – a team competing in their sixth NBA Finals in eight years – are "washed", particularly Draymond Green after his disappointing displays in Game 1 and Game 3 defeats.

But that's one of the joys of having a best-of-seven series to decide the champions: over time it's more likely that the better side comes out on top.

So far, that has been the Boston Celtics. Third quarters aside they've been the best team by a considerable distance in the series and deserve their 2-1 lead.

The pressure is on very much on the Golden State Warriors after the nature of their 116-100 defeat in Game 3. Although their big third-quarter surge came, overall the Dubs lacked the offensive punch necessary to properly cause problems for the NBA's best defense.

That is a concern, particularly with added doubt now over Stephen Curry's conditioning following the late scrum on the floor which led to Al Horford falling on his leg in Wednesday's clash at the TD Garden.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr glares on the sideline during Game 3
Image: Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr glares on the sideline during Game 3

Curry has been mesmeric in Games 1 to 3, averaging 31.3 points per game, and even with him performing at full tilt the Warriors faced a big battle as they hope to claim a fourth title in eight seasons.

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Should it prove to be the case that he is not quite 100 per cent then the Golden State Warriors are in trouble. There is little to suggest that the Dubs have the firepower necessary to beat a defensively stout Boston Celtics team without the star man performing on all cylinders.

The Warriors, of course, boast championship pedigree and experience and you cannot put a price on that in the NBA Finals. So far, though the Boston Celtics look to be the more complete team and it's inarguable that they deserve to be ahead in the series at this point.

Golden State needs more from the rest of the squad and although Steve Kerr has a deep bench of options, he may have to make some unorthodox moves to try and turn the tide, unless some of the other players start delivering.

Dubs need more from championship veterans

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) looks to pass against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the first quarter of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 8
Image: Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is defended by Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green's output across the first three games has not been good enough for the team to win a championship, simply put.

In the Warriors' victory in Game 2, Green was a pest on the defensive end and set the tone with aggressive in-Boston's-face defensive play form the opening tip.

But if he doesn't manage to assert himself in that manner, he is almost looking like a parody of himself at times. He is still running around, mouthing off, irritating the opposing fans and players and getting T'd up by officials. Although he is never a player you judge by his stats in the boxscore, his output on that front has been dreadful, averaging as many personal fouls as points in the series so far.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green reacts during Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in San Francisco
Image: Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green reacts during Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in San Francisco

Green cannot afford another off-game if he's going to win a fourth championship with his team-mates this year. He is one of the locker room leaders and he needs to carry that onto the floor consistently in what remains of this series.

As for Thompson, he was shooting 10-of-33 going from the floor going into Game 3, but vowed to keep firing and the shots started falling in Game 3 as he dropped 25 points. More concerning though has been his inability to take care of things on the defensive side of the floor.

He has been targeted by the Celtics at various points already during the series and is minus-4.0 points for his minutes on the floor, the worst of the Warriors starters by a distance.

Thompson needs to stay zeroed in with his shooting and has to try and impact the game more defensively. Since his injuries that kept him off the floor for two-and-a-half years, that is the area of his game that seems to be taking the longest to recover.

Improve rebounding and/or shooting

Kevon Looney has done his job in this series but he either needs to up his impact even more on the boards or get more help from his team-mates.

At half-time in Game 3, the Celtics led 31-16 in rebounds. Over the course of the series, the Celtics are grabbing almost six boards per game more than the Warriors. It's the biggest discrepancy in the main statistical categories and an area the Warriors must target for improvement.

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It won't be easy though, with the Celtics possessing players able to rebound the basketball all through the team at every position, from starters through the bench. Even Payton Pritchard, their only player you could argue is not accomplished on both ends of the floor has shown flashes that he could become a very good rebounder for a smaller guard.

Somehow, the Warriors are going to need to grab more rebounds – or start shooting the ball better. The 3-point shooting has always been a strength for the Dubs but with their frontcourt players both averse to shooting the 3-ball, then that means percentages from Curry and Thompson and the rest need to tick upward fairly drastically to lift the team average of 40.2 per cent (the Celtics are 43.4 per cent).

Either the shots drop, or they need second chance possessions, whilst preventing them on the other end. It's simple, but it's where the Warriors need to do better. Steve Kerr lamented missed box-outs on the possession which led to Curry's injury so it impacts the game in other less tangible ways too.

More invites to the 'Poole Party'

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Jordan Poole's long-range buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter helped the Warriors on their way to a crucial Game 2 victory over the Boston Celtics

Jordan Poole has only had one game where he showed the sort of explosiveness that has people considering him a potential heir at the guard position to the NBA royalty currently starting before him.

Unsurprisingly, it was Game 2 – when the Warriors won. He scored 17 points off the bench including a ridiculous half-court buzzer-beater to cap off a third-quarter surge that won the game for Golden State.

He needs to get hot more often and although 12 points is a decent average from the bench for a lot of players, you feel he'll need that to rise if the Warriors are going to win it all.

Poole is also a team-worst minus-6.0 points when he is on the floor. He cannot be such a drain if his team wants to win. Even as an NBA Finals rookie, it needs to be better.

If he can start making a splash and invite people more frequently to the 'Poole Party', then the Warriors have a much better chance.

Succeed in more than just third quarters

Golden State has outscored Boston in the third quarter of all three games so far, so a reporter asked Kerr why they can't start the game the same way.

"I ask myself that question very often," he said. "And I don't have an answer."

The Warriors have outscored the Celtics by a combined score of 106-63 in the NBA Finals so far in the third quarters of the games. Golden State had a 33-25 edge on Wednesday night, eliminating a 12-point halftime deficit and briefly taking the lead.

Kerr joked that he has a book of "incredibly inspiring quotes" he calls on.

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"I just try to pull out the right one," he said. "And if I get them fired up and they're excited, then they seem to play better."

On the opposing side, the third quarter struggles are a recurring problem for the Celtics, who suffered similar lapses in that period against Miami and Milwaukee.

"It's just one of those things where it's a mystery," Smart said. "We're definitely trying to not keep that pattern going."

The third quarter will certainly be important and Game 4 itself is going to be vital on Friday night at TD Garden – you can watch live on Sky Sports Arena & Main Event from 1.45am.

The NBA Finals (TV listings here) continue on Sky Sports this week, subscribe to watch the live action.

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