In a remarkable effort by the Warriors to stay alive from what looked like a possible Cavs victory, the Golden State Warriors found their spark in the last minutes of the game to win 118-113. Steph Curry (GS) had 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Kevin Durant (GS) had 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Klay Thompson (GS) had 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. LeBron James (CLE) had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. Kyrie Irving (CLE) had 38 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. JR Smith (CLE) had 16 points, 1 rebound, and 2 steals.
The end of the game before the last minute of the 4th quarter gave the impression that Cleveland was going to come out on top. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James put the Cavs on their backs more than the two previous games. With LeBron and Kyrie putting up such high numbers, it’s remarkable that they didn’t come out on top. By merely looking at individual points and minutes played, it’s easy to see why the Cavs didn’t win.
With LeBron and Kyrie playing so well, the Cavs had two fatal flaws that would lose them the game. Kevin Love played 37 minutes and only scored 9 points, and Tristan Thompson played 23 minutes and didn’t score a single point. With 23 minutes on the floor, one or two baskets by Tristan could’ve made all the difference in the world.
However, we can’t ignore the remarkable playmakers on the Warriors. Although Kevin Durant scored the most points on the Warriors, the difference maker was Klay Thompson. Klay showed the world that being called one of the “Splash Brothers” isn’t a title without meaning. Kevin Durant showed us that he is one of the “Splash Brothers” who can also drive to the rim. Not only was Durant one of the key reasons the Warriors won, he scored the 3-pointer (in LeBron’s face) that would win them the game.
The game seemed to come down to who could make more 3-pointers and who could drive to the rim better. Kyrie seemed to show the Warriors that he could win the battle of driving to the rim with great ball handles and incredible layups, but the Warriors showed the Cavs that they could win the 3-point battle. The Cavs attempted 11 more 3-pointers than the Warriors, but the Warriors made 4 more 3-pointers than the Cavs. The Warriors even set an NBA Finals record with 9 3-pointers in a quarter.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Finals. Fortunately for the Cavs, no team in NBA history had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals until last year when the Cavs upset the Warriors. However, the 6’9” Kevin Durant was not a factor in last year’s Finals.
This battle between the Warriors and Cavs is turning out to be a battle between how great Kevin Durant wants to be regarded in history and how great the Cavs think they are. There’s no question that LeBron and Kyrie have two of the best skills on the court. However, Curry and Durant also have two of the best skills on the court and have something to prove to the world. Curry is haunted by last year’s defeat by the Cavs and the public pointing out how much Kyrie outplayed him, while Durant is haunted by his lack of winning the NBA Finals and not being regarded as great of a player as LeBron even though he shows that he has the skills.
The Golden State Warriors are now 15-0 in the postseason and look to win one more game to have a record setting 16-0 postseason. The only way the Cavs can win the NBA Finals is if they win the next 4 games. As improbable as this may be, the Warriors only needed to win one more game last year to win it all but were unable to seal the deal. This year, they hope to utilize the soon-to-be legend, Kevin Durant, to break the barrier of the game that must be won.
-Photo by Jose Carlos Fajardo