CLEVELAND -- Just how good are the Golden State Warriors?
From a talent standpoint, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James believes the Warriors are as good as any team he has ever seen, which includes the original “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett on the Boston Celtics teams of the early 2000s, as well as the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, both of whom James has lost to in previous trips to the NBA Finals.
“Before the series even started, we knew what we were dealing with,” James said. “I said it after we won the Eastern Conference Finals that we're getting ready for a juggernaut. It's probably the most, most firepower I've played in my career. I played against some great teams, but I don't think no team has had this type of firepower.
“Even when you're playing well, you've got to play like A plus plus because they're going to make runs and they're going to make shots and they've got guys that are going to make plays. We made enough plays to still win the ball game, but they made a couple more.”
In the Game 3 loss, point guard Kyrie Irving and James led the way for the Cavaliers, as they totaled 38 and 39 points, respectively. James knocked down 15 of his 27 attempts, including four of his nine looks from three-point range. He corralled 11 rebounds, handed out nine assists, stole one pass and blocked a shot in the losing effort.
Even still, that was not enough to overcome Golden State’s offensive prowess.
“It's so hard to say, but like I said, for me personally, I gave everything I had,” James said. “Win, lose, or draw, you live with the results. Like I said, they played a really good game as well, but they made shots. They made shots down the stretch. They got stops, which they have been doing. We shot in the low 40s again. They got stops, and then, they made play after play down the stretch.”
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.
Durant led the Warriors with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including a four-for-seven mark from three-point range. Durant added eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and a blocked shot over 41 minutes of action.
In addition to Durant, the Warriors got double-digit production from Curry, who scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to go along with six assists and two steals, while shooting guard Klay Thompson knocked down six triples on his way to 30 markers.
“Obviously, it's physically and emotionally draining because I give everything to the game and want to put myself and my teammates in a position to be successful,” James said. “I lay it all on the floor, and I did that, gave everything that I had, both mentally and physically.
“You're going against a team like this and you put together a game like we had where we had an opportunity, it's definitely draining.”