With NBA Finals Game 3 winding down at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers all but had the game wrapped up. Up by two points with just under a minute to go, Kevin Durant had other ideas. Golden State Warrior’s prized offseason acquisition calmly stepped into a three-pointer and drained it over the outstretched arm of LeBron James. With that, the score was 114-113. Free throws sealed the victory for the Warriors, who improved to a perfect 15-0 in the postseason. The Cavaliers now face a challenge that no other team has overcome: a 3-0 series deficit.
Golden State Warriors Shock Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals Game 3
The Cavaliers played their best game of the series by far. The trio of James, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith combined for 93 of Cleveland’s 113 points. James and Irving, in particular, were sizzling. James finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists, while Irving nearly matched his point total with 38 of his own.
Cleveland responded with a plus-11 point differential in the third quarter, after being outscored by 24 points combined in the third quarter of Games 1 and 2.
Stuck to the original game plan
Tyronn Lue‘s decision to stick with the same offensive scheme and starting lineup he used in Games 1 and 2 paid off, that is until the final minute of the fourth quarter. Lue trusted that Irving would show up the way he has all season, and he wasn’t disappointed.
After J.R. Smith finished Game 2 with a grand total of zero points, Lue kept the unorthodox shooting guard in the starting five. Again, Lue was rewarded for his decision. Smith finished with 16 points on 50 percent shooting from three-point range.
Kyle Korver provided some scoring punch off the bench, knocking down a trio of three-pointers.
The Warriors are in a league of their own
Even with the Cavaliers playing by far their best game of the series, the Warriors were ultimately too much by the final buzzer. Home-court advantage ultimately couldn’t shift momentum in the Cavaliers’ favor, as they now look to avoid elimination in embarrassing fashion in front of their home crowd on Friday.
Klay Thompson hot shooting from Game 2 continued into Game 3, with the sharpshooter tallying 30 points on 11 of 18 shooting. Stephen Curry had a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Durant finished with 31 points on four three-pointers. Durant took over in the final minute, seemingly recognizing that his signature NBA Finals moment was there for the taking.
Even with Draymond Green once again in foul trouble, Golden State stayed composed enough to squeak out the surprising victory. That’s a testament to the team’s poise, talent, and clear hunger to avenge last year’s heartbreaking Finals loss.
The Warriors have shown through three games that they are clearly better than the Cavaliers and can beat them at their own game: shooting and defending three-pointers.
What does this mean for the league?
With Golden State now up three games to none, the writing is on the wall that the Warriors are poised to be the next dynasty of the NBA, pending health of course. The way the team has cruised through the playoffs is certainly an interesting storyline. It brings to light just how much farther ahead the Warriors are compared to every other team in skill-level. Team owner Joe Lacob certainly wasn’t wrong when he said the Warriors are “light-years ahead” of other teams.
In the long-term, Golden State sweeping through the playoffs may not be good for the league. Competitiveness is crucial, and the NBA is sorely lacking it. There’s no end in sight to the problem, especially if the Warriors are constructed the way they are for years to come.