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Sports BIT: NBA Finals Game 4 & 2017 Bengals Preview

Golden State Warriors At Cleveland Cavaliers

No team in NBA history has ever run the table in the postseason, but that’s on the line Friday night for the Warriors in what could be the final game of the 2016-17 season in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Certainly a 16-0 postseason run would stamp the Dubs as one of the greatest teams of all time. Cleveland played about as well as it could have in Game 3 with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combining for 77 points, but the Cavs wore down late in the fourth quarter and didn’t score in the final three minutes in losing 118-113. James played 23:26 of the second half and Irving all 24 minutes. Coach Steve Kerr believes fatigue hit the Cavs’ stars late and contributed to late misses. Wednesday marked the first time that a pair of teammates each scored at least 35 points in an NBA Finals game and lost. Each of the next-highest scoring duos in a Finals loss went on to lose the series. Cavs coach Ty Lue simply can’t afford to rest LeBron. He has sat for only 18:59 overall in the series, but the Cavs are -20 with him on the bench. By comparison, Golden State’s Kevin Durant, the expected Finals MVP, has rested for a combined 25:30 and the Warriors are plus-9 in those minutes. Sportsbook Review’s top-rated betting sites have the Warriors as 6-point favorites.

Deep Dive On 2017 Cincinnati Bengals

Few coaches enter the 2017 NFL season on a hotter seat than the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati made the playoffs from 2011-15 under Lewis but was one-and-done in each. Lewis is 0-7 overall as the Bengals’ head coach in the playoffs. Last year, Cincinnati slipped to 6-9-1, its worst record since 2010. The running game was below average, mostly due to a leaky offensive line that also allowed 41 sacks of Andy Dalton. That O-Line lost its two best players, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, in free agency. Cincinnati did address offense with its first two draft picks, although not the line, in selecting Washington speedster receiver John Ross at No. 9 overall and talented Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, he of the off-field baggage, at No. 48. It looks to be a strong group of skill position players with those two, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill, but if Dalton isn’t protected it won’t matter. Over his six-year career, Dalton's QBR is a solid 70.0 when he's alone in the pocket. When he's pressured, that number falls all the way down to 9.9. The only QB worse in that six-year span is Mark Sanchez. SBR’s sportsbooks give the Bengals a win total of 8.5. The schedule is easier on paper than last year.