Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors complete an unlikely comeback and defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3, 118-113.
In these last three playoff trips, Golden State’s record in Game 3s has been seemingly their only achilles heel (minus what happened in the finals last year.) More times than not, the Warriors would control home court advantage their first two games, then turn around and get thumped in Game 3. For example, last year Golden State beat Cleveland in the first two games of the Finals by a combined score of 43 points, then turned around and lost by 30 in Game 3. So it is safe to say they wanted to address and conquer their demons.
It was clear early in the game that LeBron James was going to be aggressive. He scored or assisted on Cleveland’s first 32 points. He was putting his head down and getting into the lane, finishing with ease. James also used his physicality to get foul calls and get to the line. He went into the half with 23 points and Cleveland looked poised to win their first game of the series.
Only being down nine going into the third quarter, It was Kyrie Irving who carried the scoring load for the Cavs. He scored 16 points (12 straight at one point) in the quarter and finished the game with his series high 38 points. James also finished with a huge stat line, ending the night with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. But even with these masterful outings by Irving and James, it still was not enough to handle the monster that is Golden State.
If Game 1 belonged to Durant, Stephen Curry made his mark in Game 2, only fitting that Game 3 was owned by Klay Thompson. Going into the game, Klay did not have his “Klay Thompson type” game yet in this series. While his defense on Irving has been more important in these Finals, his shot was not automatic as it usually is. That was all until Game 3 of course. Thompson was aggressive in getting to the rim and hitting wide open threes, which kept Golden State close throughout the game. Klay ended the night with 30 points, along with six rebounds. Curry also had an important game, scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds.
With a little under four minutes to go in the game, Golden State was down by seven points and it looked like Cleveland was going to “steal” Game 3. But Durant and the Warriors “flipped the switch” on both ends of the floor to roar back and regain the lead. It started with a put-back lay up by Curry and two back breaking threes, one from Thompson and the dagger by Durant. Along with their offense, the Warriors locked down on defense, holding Cleveland scoreless in the final three minutes and 12 seconds of the game.
The most troubling thing about the outcome to this game on Cleveland’s end is it’s hard to imagine them playing better than they did in Game 3. From Irving and James putting the team on their back, J.R Smith and Kyle Korver finally hitting threes, and Iman Shumpert playing well on the defensive side of the floor on Golden States guards, it will be hard for the Cavs to duplicate or top this performance (and they still couldn’t win playing this well).
Golden State will be looking to add another shattered record to their resume in becoming the only team to go undefeated in the playoffs. If Durant, Curry, and Thompson continue to play at the level they have been this entire series, Cleveland will be watching the Warriors celebrate their second championship in three years.
Game 4 will be on Friday, June 9 at 9 P.M