NO team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit in NBA history. This years’ Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t going to be the first team to do that. Heading towards the end of the best game of the postseason, the Cavs had a six point lead with just 1:51 on the clock. Golden State rallied to win Game 3 118-113 and move one win away from redeeming last years loss in impressive, emphatic fashion.
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A 2-1 series ledger sounds so much better than 3-0, regardless of who your opposition is. When that opposition is this Golden State Warriors squad though a 0-3 deficit means curtains for Cleveland. Despite playing the best they could against the Dubs the final few minutes killed them. The Cavs finished the game shooting 0-8 and didn’t score after they took a 113-107 lead on a J.R. Smith three. It’s obvious that fatigue is playing a massive factor into the way Cleveland is finishing games too. They have been outscored by 28 in the 2nd half through three games and that includes scoring 11 more than the Warriors in the 3rd qtr of Game 3. Their fearsome leader LeBron has obviously taken on a huge workload as we all expected in the playoffs, but even he is susceptible to these 2nd half fadeouts. Through the three games he has 64 points on over 70% shooting in the 1st half and just 32 points on under 40% shooting in the 2nd half.
Image from deseretnews.com
LOST in all the Kevin Durant hysteria has been the play of Klay Thompson in Game 3. Going off for 16 1st qtr points Klay set the tone for the Warriors early, not only splashing three’s, but by driving to the cup and staying aggressive to motivate his squad. He finished with 30 in his best game of the postseason and boy did his team need it. It wasn’t like the Cavs were dominating them or looking to put the game out of reach, but at every time the lead looked on the verge of growing there was Klay hitting a deep transition bucket or driving to the rack. For once it wasn’t his incredible defense that was the talking point, part of that was because Kyrie erupted for 38 points of his own. He was at his nifty, crafty best, pulling off 4-1 transition buckets with his left and right hand all the while dazzling the crowd. He was obviously supported by James who was an assist shy of consecutive triple doubles with 39/11/9. That being said once again the night was Kevin Durant’s.
HIS play has really been the difference this season and one of the biggest buckets in his career is a testament to that. In fact part of the reason LeBron is so tired is because he has been chasing Durant’s tail for 125 minutes he has logged so far. Easily the favourite for Finals MVP, Durant looks like he is loving life alongside his Warrior teammates and it looks like they are in for a couple of years toying with the league. You can’t really fault the Cavs for anything (with the exception of their close to the game) either. They had the two best players on the court in Kyrie and LeBron and other guys played a supporting role. Once again though the Warriors were just too damn good when it mattered most.
ON the verge of the first 16-0 postseason, many people are claiming that this is Durant’s coming out party. Inevitably LeBron will have to start his decline at some point, but ‘The Throne’ still belongs to ‘The King’. Let’s not hastily crown KD after one great Finals series he still has a way to go before the torch has been passed. But the process has begun. It won’t be long before Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl Anthony-Towns or another young superstar is having this same discussion with Jimmy Fallon as Durant was back in 2014.