CLEVELAND - Wow. Just wow.
That's as devastating a loss as we've seen in the LeBron James era for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the defending NBA Champions find themselves on the brink of elimination in the 2017 NBA Finals.
Golden State finished the last 2:48 of the game on an 11-0 run as they rallied to beat the Wine and Gold, 118-113 to take a commanding 3-0 lead. The Warriors will go for the sweep on Friday.
Let's get down to the 3 Shots:
1. Kyrie Irving had a marvelous, marvelous game
After being stymied by Klay Thompson for the first two-plus games of this series, Irving was dominant in the second half. He scored 16 points in the third quarter alone and finished the night with 38 points. He dove for loose balls, he kept possessions alive, he made spectacular play after spectacular play. Until those final 3 minutes or so, it looked like Irving (along with LeBron James) was about to bring the Cavaliers back in the NBA Finals.
2. Kevin Durant might have buried his legacy as a player who chokes in big games by burying the game winning basket
Kevin Durant is a truly special player. An MVP. Future Hall-of-Famer.
But the knock on him had always been that he disappears in the truly big games. Despite averaging 30 points per game in the 2012 NBA Finals, Durant was the guy that couldn't handle LeBron James' game. His Thunder lost to James' Heat squad in five games. Then in 2016, OKC led Golden State 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and looked to be on a collision course with the Cavs. Durant faded into the background in the final two games as the Warriors rallied to win. Durant responded by shocking everyone and leaving the Thunder to join Golden State in the offseason.
People questioned his heart. Could he play on the big stage?
With the Warriors down two with :45 seconds left, KD calmly stroked a three to give Golden State the lead for good. He's been brilliant in these NBA Finals, averaging 34 points. He'll more than likely be the MVP. And many basketball 'experts' will owe him an apology.
3. The Cavaliers failed to close tonight
People will point to multiple reasons why the Cavaliers lost on Wednesday night. Another game where Tristan Thompson was missing in action. Kevin Love picked a bad night to get cold from the field. Only 11 points from the bench. LeBron shouldn't have passed to Kyle Korver for a three in the corner with :52 seconds left when he had a chance to drive to the basket and draw a foul. You may have other suspects.
The thing that will stick out to me from tonight is that for 3 out of 4 quarters, the Cavaliers failed to finish strong.
Golden State outscored them 10-0 in the final 2 minutes of the first quarter. They had an 8-2 stretch to finish the second. And then, check out what ESPN Stats and Info posted about that final 2:48:
Final 2:45 of Game 3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2017
Pts 11 0
FG 3-3 0-8
FT 4-4 0-0
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