Posted on June 8, 2017, by Travis Pulver
There was hope for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they headed home for Game Three of the NBA Finals. Last season they could right the ship when the Finals moved to Cleveland. Maybe that would be true this year as well. If you look at the performances LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had, you would think that was the case—but it wasn’t.
James was an assist away from another triple-double (39 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists). Irving had his most productive game with 38 points, six rebounds, and three assists (but couldn’t hit a three-pointer to save his life; 0-7).
Then you glance at the stat line for the Warriors and see Kevin Durant (31 points, eight rebounds), Steph Curry (26 points, 13 rebounds, six assists), and Klay Thompson (30 points, six rebounds) each had good nights. With that being the case, the Cavs would need more than James and Irving to pull off a win.
But they didn’t get it. J.R. Smith did his best to chip in with 16 points. But Kevin Love had an off-night offensively (nine points). Tristan Thompson failed to score. The Cavs bench chipped in a total of 11 points.
A win in the NBA Finals requires more than just two players doing well. But with Irving and James leading the charge, the Cavs were able to make this one competitive. That is, up until the final couple minutes of the game.
The Cavs led by five entering the final period. While the Warriors threatened to overtake them, the Cavs were able to do just enough to remain in front. After J.R. Smith had hit a three-pointer with 3:09 to play the Cavaliers were up by six points, 113-107, and things were looking okay. Yes, they had missed some opportunities to extend their lead.
With James on their side and Irving having a great night, they appeared to be in good shape. But then the worst thing that could happen did indeed happen—they quite hitting their shots (0-8 in the final 2:45) and the Warriors made theirs.
Cleveland failed to make another shot after Smith’s three-pointer. It took the Warriors a couple of minutes to close the gap. With 45 seconds to play, Kevin Durant hit the go-ahead three-pointer to make the score 114-113, Warriors. Irving would miss a three-pointer on Cleveland’s next possession which Durant followed up with a pair of free throws.
When you have a guy like LeBron James on the roster you are never out of a game until it is over. With 12 seconds on the clock and down by three, the Cavs tried to set him up for a clutch three-point shot—but Andre Iguodala had something else in mind.
James rebounded the ball following Iguodala’s block but stepped out of bounds. Curry added a pair of free throws to lock up the win for the Warriors, 118-113.
With the win, the Warriors have a 15-game postseason winning streak, the longest of any professional sports team. The previous record was 14 wins by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Golden State will have the opportunity to make history with a win over the Cavaliers in Game Four. Should they pull it off, they will look to become the first NBA team to have an undefeated postseason.
Game Four will be Friday night starting at 9 PM ET on ABC.