Cleveland Cavaliers 102
Golden State Warriors 110
Cavs trail series, 3-0
The moment Draymond Green called Kevin Durant from the Oracle Arena parking lot after the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead in the 2016 NBA Finals was a moment that changed the league and the brewing rivalry between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors forever. The 73-win Warriors added the second-best player in the NBA. I mean, what else did you expect to happen, honestly?
Game 3 was a perfect example of just how good (and unbeatable) Golden State is. They will lose one game here and there, but to think that an opposing team could beat the Dubs in four of seven games seems like an unobtainable task, one that has proven to be impossible since the moment KD joined Golden State.
I’m not saying this series is over, but let’s be real here, the Cavs are down 3-0. Do you really think they will be able to win four straight games against one of the best teams the game has ever seen? Many thought Cleveland could at least protect home court, but against such a great team, that’s even tough to do.
Just how good are the Warriors, you ask? If Stephen Curry has an off night, they can lean on Klay Thompson. If Thompson has an off night, the Warriors can lean on Kevin Durant. That’s exactly what happened Wednesday night. With both Curry and Thompson struggling offensively, KD took control of the game, making it seemingly impossible to guard him at times while scoring 43 points and shooting 15-of-23 from the floor, 6-of-9 from three-point range, and perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. He also notched 13 rebounds and seven assists.
Even with their two sharpshooters seemingly lost offensively for much of the game, Golden State was still able to run their offense for KD. Imagine if LeBron James had an off night. It wouldn’t be pretty, to say the least. That’s one of the many reasons why Durant is not liked across much of the NBA.1 The Warriors’ margin for error is so much bigger than any other team’s across the NBA, including the wine and gold. James alluded to that after the game.
“It’s almost like playing the Patriots: you just can’t have mistakes, they’re not going to beat themselves,” he said of Golden State’s talent level.
Let’s take a look at Game 3:
33/10/11/2/2 – James’ greatness really is incredible. Other than score 50-plus points, he did all he could do to try and lead the Cavs to their first win of the 2018 Finals. He may have had an off night shooting the ball, knocking down just 13-of-28 from the floor including 1-of-6 from three-point range, but the King’s stat line was something special—again. Finishing with 33 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals, and two blocks is so special, even with seemingly the Warriors’ entire focus being on him for all 47 minutes he was on the floor.
Oh and let’s not forget that incredible alley oop to himself in the first quarter. What a play.
20/13/3 – Was Game 3 Kevin Love’s best game he’s ever had against Golden State? It might have been. The big man ended up with 20 points, 13 rebounds (five offensive), and three assists while shooting 6-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc in his 31 minutes. But it wasn’t just that either. Love was super aggressive and did well defensively as well.
15/6 – After totaling just 37 minutes over his last 10 playoff games, including six DNPs, Rodney Hood had one heckuva game Wednesday night, to say the least. He not only made plays for himself, but did things with the ball that he seemingly hasn’t done all postseason. The lengthy shooting guard had 15 points and six rebounds while knocking down 7-of-11 shots in 26 minutes. He and Love were by far the only part of the Cavs’ offense worth remembering in Game 3 other than No. 23.
47-37 – The wine and gold dominated the glass, outrebounding Golden State, 47-37, yet it didn’t matter in the end. They even dominated the offensive glass, 17-6, as well. For much of the postseason, if the Cavs’ won the rebounding game, they won the game. The same can’t be said against the Warriors. You just have to do so many other things tremendously well to beat them once, let alone four times in seven games.
9-of-31 – After making their first two three-pointers to start the game, Cleveland shot just 9-of-31 from beyond the arc as a team. That type of shooting performance isn’t going to beat many teams in the NBA, let alone the Warriors.
7-for-27 – Curry (3-for-16) and Thompson (4-for-11) shot a combined 7-for-27 and yet the Warriors still won by eight. That truly is incredible. When you have three stars, I guess that’s what happens. Two of them can shoot a combined 26 percent from the floor and you’ll still come away with a win because your third star carried the team all night.
3-for-17 – Non-Durant Warriors were just 3-for-17 from beyond the arc for a dismal 18 percent and there was still nothing to the Cavs could do. With Curry (1-for-10), Thompson (2-for-5), and Draymond Green (0-for-2) all ice cold for much of the night, it just didn’t matter in the end.
11-for-14 – KD may have carried the team, but what Golden State’s bench did can’t go unnoticed. The three Warriors’ second unit players who played 10-plus minutes shot a combined 79 percent from the floor, with Jordan Bell (10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes), Andre Iguodala (eight points on 3-of-4 in 22 minutes), and Shaun Livingston (eight points on 4-of-5 in 17 minutes) leading the way. The Warriors’ starters are tough to hold down defensively, when they have a bench unit that is as efficient as that, good luck.
2 – What’s up with the referees refusing to give Green a second technical, which would then lead to him being thrown out of the game. The amount of times he somewhat embarrassed the officials by showing them up after he and Tristan Thompson received double technicals happened so often that it was hard to keep track of. For some reason, Green has the longest leash in the NBA and is basically allowed to do whatever he wants after he receives his first “T” because referees refuse to give him a second one. Former Cavalier and NBA Champion Channing Frye agrees.
I cannot wait to start off the year yelling at the refs like a hobo on bath salts, so when i get in the playoffs they say “oh it’s just Channing”
— Channing Frye (@Channing_Frye) June 7, 2018
- Oh, and you can’t compare the King going to the Miami Heat and joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to KD joining a 73-win Warriors squad. [↩]