The importance of Game 3 for Cleveland

Stephen Curry notched his first playoffs career triple double in a 132-113 Game 2 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

It seems that even when Golden State is having a bad game, they are still head and shoulders better than everybody else. Game 2 saw the Warriors play probably their second worst game of these playoffs, coughing up the ball 20 times and yet still look as dominant as ever. Behind brilliant games from Curry and Kevin Durant, Golden States’ sheer talent masked their imperfections of Game 2.

Curry was everywhere on the floor. From hitting deep bombs to snagging rebounds, he was nearly unstoppable the entire night. Aside from his eight turnovers, Curry had a near perfect game, finishing the night scoring 32 points, along with 10 rebounds and 11 assists. What is even more amazing about that stat line is he out rebounded both of the Cavs high powered rebounding bigs in Kevin Love (7) and Tristan Thompson (4). It was not just Curry who came to play for the Warriors however. Durant finished with a game high 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks on the night.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

LeBron James looked like a man on a mission in the first half. Not even attempting a three until the second half, James put his head down and steamrolled to the rim possession after possession, only missing three shots going into half. He was getting his teammates good looks, as usual, and battling down low for rebounds. James finished with his eighth career Finals triple double (29 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists,) tying Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for most in NBA history. However, that style of play, along with chasing Durant the entire night, wore James down in the second half. He began settling for shots he did not take in the first half, many of which did not fall.

Outside of LeBron however, the Cavs struggled mightily. Yes, Love finished with a Finals career high 27 points, but he was not nearly as effective on the defensive side of the ball and on the glass. Kyrie Irving struggled all night with his shot (shooting 8 for 23 from the field,) ending the night only scoring 19 points. J.R Smith did not score and Tristan Thompson only had eight points. Cleveland’s bench wasn’t much better. While they did score more than game one, Kyle Korver was the high man with eight points.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

The true difference in game two was the re-emergence of Klay Thompson’s offense, which has been MIA this entire playoffs. Klay found his stroke early in the first quarter and never looked back. Along with his suffocating defense on Irving, Thompson scored 22 points. Draymond Green ended he night with 12 points while Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark both came off the bench dropping 10 points.

Let’s be clear. Yes, Cleveland was in the same position last year as they went into game three down 0-2, but this is nothing like last year! Golden State seems to be leaps and bounds better than the Cavs. From Curry’s health (which he was dealing with a knee injury last year,) to Kevin Durant showing the world that he IS one of the best players in the world, this Golden State is not the same monster than squandered a 3-1 lead a year ago.

As unfathomable as it might be, LeBron James is at a weird spot in his enriched NBA career. Yes, it is only two games (and both games last year looked eerily similar to the ones this year.) But Cleveland looks both outmatched and out manned in this Finals. Golden State is faster, quicker, and seemingly more motivated than that of the Cavs. Outside of James, no other Cleveland player as been able to maintain stretches of winning basketball. From not hitting shots to little-to-no defense, the Cavs look lost in trying to slow down the Warriors, who are frankly one of the greatest teams the NBA has ever seen.

PHOTO CREDIT:Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Game 3 is the most important game of this series for Cleveland. Not only do you want to avoid digging yourself a 3-0 deficit, Golden State has almost rewritten the narrative for Cleveland’s season. All year it’s been “Warriors and Cavs are head and shoulders above the rest” or ” Cleveland is not scared of the Warriors.” We as consumers of the NBA were told to believe that just because the Warriors added a former MVP in Durant, Cleveland was still looking eye-to-eye with them. What we have seen so far is furthest from the truth. In the first two game, Golden State has shown both that even when they are playing poor, they are still the best team in the league and even with Lebron, Cleveland (or anybody in the league) has no answers in stopping them. If Cleveland goes down 3-0 and lose in similar fashion as they did in both Games 1 & 2, not only will the world see just how unstoppable Golden State is, but the “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” memes would be nothing but an after thought and the stories will turn into “Will LeBron ever win a ring again?”

Going down 3-0 on THESE Golden State Warriors would be catastrophic for Cleveland. Not only has no team ever came back from being down 3-0, the Cavs do not have the personnel outside of LeBron and Kyrie to even match the Warriors in scoring. Being in front of your home court does help Cleveland, but not one fan has the answer to slowing down the high powered machine that is Golden State.

Yes, it is only two games and Cleveland is expected to play much better in front of their  home crowd. But if the Cavs can’t take Game 3, do not be surprised if come Game 4, we see the great LeBron James get swept for the first time since 2006-07.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Game three will be on June 7, at P.M. EST.

Written by 

Jalen Hunter is an NBA writer for My Mind on Sports.

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