The best two teams in the NBA went head to head with the outcome of the game still up in the air in the final seconds; finally a good finals game.
I fell asleep in the third quarter.
I woke up around 2 AM after my body forced itself awake to desperately inhale a good breath of air through fat neck induced sleep apnea. I saw my startled cat staring at me with dilated eyes sitting next to my phone. I booted up the slab of glass and searched for the final score, 118-113.
During my lunch break I watched a long extended clip of highlights on the internet of the final quarter. Can these games start earlier than 9 PM? Call me old and fat, but damn, a dude has to get up early to sit in a cube and barely make a living you know? The games don’t even start at 9 PM, tip is more like 9:30 PM after the country singers sing the national anthem. Anything past 11 PM on a school night is hard to stay up for.
The game started out fast and furious as both teams were draining threes. In the first quarter LeBron ate an elbow from Tristan Thompson (who has completely shit the bed in the finals) and fell to the floor in a manner that would suggest he was shot in the chest at point blank range with a double barrel shot gun. I am sure it hurt, but LeBron’s overreacting to injuries is one of the few things that he does that drives me crazy. Remember last year in Game 7 when he hurt his ankle and based on his reaction it looked like he would never play again? This was like that, LeBron fell to the ground, everyone huddled around him in worry as he looked dead, then he got up and balled like he always does. LeBron getting knocked over by his own underperforming role player is a perfect microcosm of his series.
Klay Thompson started shooting better in game 2 and performed even better in game 3. He finished the game with 30 points (6-11 from three). On the other side, JR Smith scored 16 points (5-10 from three) finally making some kind of impact in the game. Knowing that Klay Thompson, one of the best shooters in NBA history, is playing the same role on his team as JR Smith is on the Cavs, tells you everything you need to know about the talent disparity in this series.
JR Smith is as good of shooter as Klay of his best day and when Klay is on a mediocre day, but Klay can at least play defense. JR continued with his dumb fouls, most notably in the first quarter when he fouled Curry in the fast break when the Cavs had a 3-1 man advantage on defense. Shumpert also helped JR in committing just unexplainably bad fouls of his own while clanking jump shot after jump shot (he had 2 points).
The Cavs had back to back weird events happen in the second quarter. LeBron threw up an alley-oop which missed his target (his teammate) but the bad pass went through the net. A few possessions later, Kyle Korver traveled his way down the baseline after catching a great pass from LeBron for a dunk. The replay showed Korver barely got the ball over the rim (the broadcast stated it was only his 16th dunk of his career).
Kevin Love was horrendous in game 3. I feel like his box score often looks better than he does live, but it didn’t last night. He only put up 9 points and went 1-7 from the field. Ever since he arrived in Cleveland Love has been rumored to be on the trading block, and I agree that the Cavs aren’t using him right to max his potential, but I can see why LeBron reportedly wants him gone. The constant missed bunnies under the rim and the pitiful defense is frustrating to watch. The offensive rebounds are great, but he doesn’t bring a lot more to the table other than accurate full court passes.
Kyrie and LeBron carried Cleveland in game 3. LeBron had 39-11-9 while Kyrie had 38-6-3. If you look at his numbers, LeBron is scoring more and is much more efficient in the first half compared to the second. He drives to the rim less late in the games and is piling up insane minutes. Without him on the court his team is vulnerable so he doesn’t receive a lot of rest. I don’t know if he is tired late in the game like many have been suggesting, but he definitely plays less aggressive in the 4th.
Kyrie continues to finish impossible shots at the rim. He is so good at handling the ball in traffic in the paint and putting the soft touch on the ball to allow it to gently roll into the hoop. Kyrie is incredibly skilled on offense and he proved in game 7 last year that he has the stones to take big shots in high pressure situations. He reaffirmed the size and density of his stones last night, but he failed at making the crucial shot. In the final 30 seconds of the game, the Cavs were down by 1 point after Durant hit the pull up 3. Kyrie responded with dribbling too much in isolation on the perimeter against Thompson and put up a terrible contested three pointers that wasn’t even close to going in (he was 0-7 from three).
The Warriors were a bit sloppy in game 3 turning the ball over 18 times. I don’t have any stats to back this up, but it feels like the Warriors turn overs don’t matter as they play so fast they can easily make up for them. The dumb fouls from the Cavs also helps them make up for points scored on turnovers as Curry hasn’t missed a free throw all series and has made 31 straight in the playoffs (a new record).
Durant, Curry, and Thompson lead the Warriors in scoring. Durant went 31-9-4, Thompson went 30-5-2, and Curry went 26-13-6. The Cavs were able to keep pace with the Warriors and even lead late in the game, but the Warriors went on a 11-0 run to end the game. With just over 40 seconds left in the game Durant hit the pull up three to put them up by one. That feeling Durant had when he nailed the shot, I want to feel that for just one second. What a great shot.
There isn’t a lot to criticize with the Warriors other than Zaza “ankle breaker” Pachulia. I hate watching this guy play. He only played 13 minutes last night, all of which were terrible. He had 0 points and 4 fouls, almost all of which were moving screens. The moving screens were committed long after the lane for this teammate was opened up, they were completely unnecessary. To make the screens even more infuriating, he complains to ref afterwards despite the obvious foul. Fuck that guy. JaVale McGee is much more effective and can keep up with the fast pace. McGee should be starting for the Warriors for the rest of the series (1 game).
Iguodala, Livingston, and West coming off the bench offer good minutes to the Warriors. On the other side, Deron Williams still hasn’t hit a shot yet in the finals, Richard Jefferson looks like he should have retired 2 years ago, and Shumpert consistently puts up more dumb fouls than points.
The Warriors have 4 all-stars in their starting line-up who play hard on defense and a deep bench. The Cavs have the best player in the world, 2 offensively gifted players who can’t defend a AAU kid, and an old bench who can’t score. If the Cavs had any chance of winning a game, it was last night. The Warriors are the first team to win 15 straight games in the playoffs and they will be the first team to go 4-4-4-4 going undefeated in the post season.