Cleveland Cavaliers 105
Toronto Raptors 103
Cavs lead series, 3-0
The Cleveland Cavaliers were up five at the end of the first quarter, 15 at halftime, 14 at the end of the third quarter, and then the score was knotted at 103 with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Don’t know if it was because LeBron James dons the wine and gold or due to the Cavaliers winning the NBA championship in 2016, but there wasn’t a single moment in the game where I felt nervous, even after the Cavs blew a 14-point lead in the final 12 minutes of the game. In fact, when the Toronto Raptors cut the lead to five with just over four minutes left, I told the group of people that I was watching the game with that it’s setting up to have No. 23 win the game with a buzzer-beater again, his second one of the postseason. I repeated that sentiment during the timeout with just over eight seconds left.
I had confidence that James and the Cavs would win the game the entire time. Then again, every Cleveland fan should have given how much James has owned the Raptors over the years, so much that some have renamed the city that they reside in as LeBronto.
Just when you thought No. 23 couldn’t do it again, he went out and did it all again. Not only should Cavs fans enjoy this, but basketball fans should as well, before it’s too late. Don’t hate on LeBron James because of his greatness, appreciate the fact that you are able to watch him on a nightly basis.
2 – One buzzer-beater in the playoffs is good, two is even better. Just when you thought LeBron couldn’t “wow” you anymore, he goes out and does something like this. Running (and falling) to his left, he put up a one-handed floater perfectly off the backboard and into the hoop as time expired. Incredible would be an understatement, really. No. 23 really is the best.
38/6/7/3 – How does he continue to do this on a nightly basis. Obviously, the majority of people will only remember James’ game-winner at the buzzer, but with 38 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and one block, No. 23 filled up the stat sheet once again. Not only did he fill up the box score, but he did it efficiently as well, knocking down 14-of-26 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
16 – His buzzer-beater will be all that’s remembered, but we can’t forget about James’ impressive fourth quarter as well. He scored 16 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, proving yet again that he can be counted on when his team needs him the most.
21/16 – After an impressive (and much-needed) Game 2 performance, Kevin Love carried the momentum from Thursday night into Saturday night as well. He followed up 31 and 11 game Thursday night with 21 points, 16 rebounds, and two assists in 38 minutes during Saturday night’s win.
Love’s plus-20 led the team by a wide margin, with Kyle Korver’s plus-11 being the second best. When the big man plays at this level, it opens up a whole new avenue for the Cavs. Hopefully he can continue to do it.
18 – Kyle Korver continued to play well, much like he has so far this postseason. An efficient Korver that making threes brings a whole new (and different) to Cleveland’s offense.. When he’s knocking down his shots, it opens up the rest of the floor for his teammates. Saturday night, the sharpshooter had 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, hitting 4-of-6 from three-point range in 33 minutes. He also had four rebounds and two assists with a plus-11 minutes as well.
14 – After Tristan Thompson had an impressive Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers and performed well during the first two games of the series against the Raptors, he struggled in Game 3. Not only did he not score, but he also was a minus-9 in 14 minutes while only securing three rebounds.
11/2 – With the bench virtually nonexistent, Jeff Green was able to rally off 11 points, two rebounds, and two assists in 31 minutes. Although many of us talked about how he shouldn’t even come off the bench and just not even play during the game, but Green has made quite a name for himself this series. He has been knocking down his shots, getting to the basket, and being a versatile defender as well.
12/1/2 – He may not be the star point guard that Cleveland is used to having since LeBron came back, but it’s not a coincidence that the Cavs now hold a 3-0 series lead with George Hill back as the starting point guard. Whether it’s knocking down shots when he’s open, doing well in the pick and roll, or being physical defensively, the veteran plays his role, and he does it well. He had 12 points, one rebound, and two assists while shooting 4-of-7 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range, and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line in 35 minutes.
0-for-2 – The Cavs won and took a 3-0 lead, but JR Smith was somewhat nonexistent on offense in Game 3. He not only didn’t score, but Smith had just one rebound, one assist, and one steal as well. Cleveland may hold a 3-0 series lead, but it’s amazing to think that they still aren’t playing their best yet. Watch out, NBA.
Minus-11, minus-8 – Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood continued to struggled, much like they have all postseason. In 11 minutes each, they combined for just five points, with Clarkson scoring all five, and were a combined 2-of-9 from the floor, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Outside of Tristan Thompson’s minus-9, Clarkson’s minus-11 and Hood’s minus-8 were the worst on the team. It isn’t likely to cost them this series, but the two deadline additions must improve as the Cavs get further into the postseason.
16 – Partially due to Clarkson and Hood, the bench was virtually non-existent outside of Jeff Green’s 11 points in Game 3. The group must do better as the Cavs get farther into the postseason. Luckily, the starters did well enough to still put up 105 points.
17 – We all know how much the Cavs’ defense struggled for much of the regular season, but they seemed to have flipped the switch for much of the postseason. While their defense has still struggled at times, they’ve been much better of late. Although they allowed 103 points to the Raptors Saturday night, the wine and gold also forced Toronto to turn the ball over 17 times.
Minus-23 – DeMar DeRozan is one of Toronto’s best players, along with Kyle Lowry, but to say he struggled in Game 3 would be an understatement. In fact, he struggled so much that Raptors head coach Dwane Casey didn’t even play his All-Star at times down the stretch. In 28 minutes, DeRozan had just eight points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks while knocking down 3-of-12 from the floor and was a dismal minus-23, by far the worst on the team.