CLEVELAND -- After fighting so hard to erase a deficit and take their first second-half lead of the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled over the final 3:09, and their scoring drought led to a 118-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Wednesday night.
But while the Cavaliers are down, 3-0, in the best-of-seven series, shooting guard J.R. Smith believes there is plenty of fight remaining in Cleveland’s locker room.
“There’s a lot left,” Smith said after the Game 3 loss. “There’s a lot of talent in this locker room, so there’s a lot left.”
The Cavaliers did not score a point over the final three-plus minutes of Game 3, and a late spurt from small forward Kevin Durant gave the Warriors the five-point victory. With the win, the Warriors took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into tonight’s Game 4 matchup in Cleveland.
“That’s what it has to be about if you want to last,” Smith said. “We have to take it one quarter at a time. A lot of times you say, ‘One game at a time,’ but against these guys, you really have to take it a quarter at a time.
“Try to play your best basketball for 12 minutes, another 12 minutes, go into half and keep it going. We just have to do a better job taking care of the ball, moving the ball, doing what we’re doing and play like we did in the second half, and we will be good.”
As the clock ticked under a minute, 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.
“They got open shots,” Smith said. “We closed out on KD in transition and left Klay open in the corner. I thought KD was open, but Klay got open. We just didn’t execute as well as we wanted to. Against this team, you have to execute and score because obviously, they have enough scorers that are hard to stop.”
According to Smith, for the Cavaliers to close out a game against the Warriors, they need to do more when conventional wisdom would say enough has been done to finish off a win.
“When you have the lead, you have to keep scoring,” Smith said.
“I mean we really should have had a bigger lead. I missed a three, Kyle missed a three in the corner, Ky [Irving] missed two layups. We should have been up more, but it happens. Unfortunately, it’s the NBA Finals and it happened. We just have to try to get another one on Friday.”
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