Down 0-2 heading back to Cleveland, the Cavaliers tossed away their best chance of getting back in the series when they lost Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, 118-113. After each loss, LeBron has repeatedly stated that he left everything out on the floor, and it is relatively rare that biggest, strongest, fastest and most athletic player to ever play small forward would see his best fall short.
Klay Thompson had his best quarter of the entire playoffs with 21 points to pace the Golden State Warriors in Game 3. Additionally, Kevin Durant’s sneaky 16 points while Steph Curry’s 14 on cruise control made the score 67-61 in favor of the Warriors at halftime.
The Warriors made an NBA record nine three-pointers in the first quarter and you didn’t need an archelogist or anthropoligst to translate this on-court cuneiform for the uninformed. The writing on the wall said that even with LeBron operating at his Pharaohnic best alongside Kyrie Irving’s reemerged mini-Mamba mentality, and a much needed JR Smith sighting, it likely would not be enough to beat the Warriors.
Irving continued his unstoppable, unfathomable forays to the basket in the 3rd quarter with off-balance, wrong-footed, off-hand floaters from all over the floor. His 16-point outburst helped the Cavs outscore Golden State 33-22 in the quarter and resulted in Cleveland having a five-point lead going into the 4th quarter, their largest lead of the series.
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But a game isn’t won in three quarters, and it is the fourth quarter that has haunted LeBron James in all of his greatness in the NBA Finals.
Remember the 2011 NBA Finals? How about the 2014 NBA FInals? How about the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals? These are but a few of the instances that James’ critics have mentioned in breaking down his deficiencies in the past.
Those criticisms continued following Game 2, after LeBron”s flaming determination that resulted in a near triple-double in the first half seemed to fade down the stretch.
There will no doubt be legions of armchair coaches dissecting this fourth quarter from now until the pyramids crumble.
And that’s exactly what the Cavs did. Up by six points with under three minutes left in the game, the Warriors would go on an 11-0 run that was punctuated by multiple instances of blunder for LeBron, Irving and the rest of the Cavs. Down by two with 45 seconds remaining, Kevin Durant calmly walked into a three pointer and drained it LeBron’s grill.
Hollywood K would try to respond but he over-dribbled and hoisted a horrible shot that barely grazed the rim. James was over-passing, Kyrie’s jump shot wasn’t falling yet he continued trying to shoot threes, and with the score 116 -113, LeBron was stripped by the sure-handed Andre Iguodala in the closing seconds of the game.
With the Warriors on the verge of winning their second NBA title in three years, the GOAT talk has become noticeably muted over the last week or so. LeBron’s unselfishness has been his undoing at certain points in his career and Game 3 was more food for that fact.
Kevin Durant had 31 points to lead the Warriors while Klay Thompson erupted for 30. Though he was the focal point of the Cavs’ defense throughout most of the game, Stephen Curry managed 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
James and Irving scored, 39 and 38 respectively while JR Smith finished with 16, but none of the other Cavaliers showed up offensively. Not Love, not Tristan Thompson, not Richard Jefferson and certainly not Deron Williams.
I’m not saying it’s over, but it’s over.