CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers knew the Golden State Warriors were good before they stepped onto the floor against them in the 2017 NBA Finals, the third straight meeting between the organizations.
But they got a difficult reminder of just how good from the Warriors in Game 3 of The Finals in front of the home fans at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Wednesday night. The Warriors scored 11 straight points to close out the 118-113 victory, which gave them a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“One thing about that team that you can't necessarily prepare for is how they keep coming,” point guard Kyrie Irving said. “They keep coming at all times. Whether it be a three-pointer that is out in transition or an off-leg shot or something like that that doesn't look necessarily comfortable, you have to realize that all those guys in that locker room are capable of making those types of shots.”
Up by six points, 113-107, with 3:09 to play in Game 3, the Cavaliers did not score again, and thanks to the late run, the Warriors stole the victory and took a commanding three-game lead in the best-of-seven series heading into tonight's Game 4 matchup in Cleveland.
“We witnessed a closing game by Kevin Durant that you can't prepare for,” Irving said. “It's just big-time play, big-time plays after big-time plays that he was making. He was comfortable, and we tried to make it as uncomfortable as possible.”
As the clock ticked under a minute, Warriors small forward Kevin Durant secured a defensive rebound and dribbled the ball over to the left wing, where he pulled up and knocked down a 26-foot three-pointer, which gave Golden State a 114-113 lead over the Cavaliers.
Then, Durant and point guard Stephen Curry closed out the game with two free throws each.
“This is a make-or-miss league, and we understand that because if that three that he pulls in transition goes the other way, then the whole conversation could be different, but he nails a big-time shot like that,” Irving said.
“He was gutsy enough to take it, and it created what they needed. You give credit where credit is due, but as we prepare for Game 4, we know there are some things that we can get better at and correct and make them feel a little bit more uncomfortable.”
Having missed a go-ahead shot with just 25 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Irving is going to shake off the sting of Game 3 and again get ready to lead the charge for the Cavaliers, just as he did in scoring 38 points in the loss.
“The creativity and having that confidence, it's unwavering, man, forever,” Irving said. “It can't change, but if you do get on a disappointing end, then how you respond and how you are in those next moments will really dictate who you are.
“I try to keep that same mindset going forward -- that if I stay who I am and stay true to who I am, then everything will work out.”