I’m going to make this brief… the Warriors are the better team. With all due respect to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, it appears that Cleveland is simply outmatched by the Warriors’ unparalleled talent. With a narrow victory on the road, Golden State is now just 48 minutes away from becoming the first team to sweep the postseason in NBA history. Let’s take a look at what the Cavaliers and their fans can do to try to salvage at least one victory, and avoid having GSW celebrate on the Cavs’ home floor.
As much as I hate to say it, I’m nearly out of answers. The Cavs did everything right before surrendering 11 straight points in the final three minutes. Blame fatigue, blame missed shots, blame whatever you want to…The Cavs should’ve won Game 3. Nay, they had to win Game 3… and they let it slip away. Kevin Durant’s gut-punch (pictured above) gave Golden State the lead late, and demoralized the entire state of Ohio.
It’s a shame, too. Cleveland came out with a lot of heart. They hustled for loose balls, fought for rebounds, took care of their limited possessions, and James let the ball flow through the hot hands on his team. J.R. Smith was back to knocking down 3s, and Irving and James combined for a staggering 77 points. All in all, they left their hearts on that court, but they still didn’t quite have enough to slip past the Warriors.
It’s too bad that Cleveland didn’t play with that must-win mentality in Games 1 and 2, or maybe this might still be a series. Now down 3-0, I’ll be surprised if they have much fight left. But they’ll need to muster everything they’ve got for Game 4, because the Warriors look to seize upon even the slightest misstep from Cleveland. If GSW gets another considerable lead, it will be very difficult for the Cavs to avoid throwing in the towel and looking ahead to 2018.
It’s hard to blame them. Kevin Durant is on fire, and poised to face more criticism head-on for joining his playoff rival in order to win the NBA Finals. Even better, he’s in prime position to take home MVP honors. Fitting, as he is a major difference between the Warriors blowing a 3-1 series lead in 2016, to locking in a 4-0 sweep in 2017.
You have to commend the Warriors though. It’s no easy task to win 15 straight, let alone against the top competition in the world. You cannot take anything away from this all-star team as they showcase their dominance by proving just how much better they are than the league’s second-best team. KD has scored over 30 in each game, teammate Stephen Curry averages over 28 PPG, and they always get help from the supporting cast. Whether it’s Zaza Pachulia neutralizing the Cavs’ big men, the bench spacing the floor and contributing on the stat sheet, or Klay Thompson rattling home 30 points of his own, the Warriors never seem to have an off night.
It must be frustrating for the Cavaliers to face, as James said, so much offensive firepower. But we knew as soon as Durant signed with Golden State in the offseason that we’d be here. We may not have predicted this unprecedented run, but it goes to show that if players form a team specifically to win a championship (i.e. 2012 Miami Heat, 2016 Cavaliers, 2017 Warriors), it’s more than likely going to happen.
That’s a scary thing for NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Being able to predict the NBA Finals champion before opening night of the season is not a good thing for the sport. However, the dynasties that have formed in recent years will yield to new ones, and I guess that’s what we get to look forward to watching. Who will succeed the Warriors and Cavs in a few years? That’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s see how much longer the 2016-2017 season will last.
If you want my opinion, Cavs lose by 17 on Friday night. Despite what James says, you can tell the extended minutes are nagging this team. The fatigue in the 4th quarters is palpable. They’re slower on fast breaks, lazier on defense, and the clutch shots elude them. The Warriors beat this with hunger, adrenaline, but most importantly, depth. They simply want it more. And even if those weren’t factors, they have more contributors on the bench to spell the superstars.
Win or lose Game 4, the Warriors will not be denied the Larry O’ Brien Trophy, especially with the way Durant ripped Cleveland’s hearts out at the end of Game 3. But hey, stranger things have happened. If the Cavaliers find a way to boost their spirits in Game 4, maybe the tides can turn. Unfortunately, I think their hard work in Game 3 was too little too late, and now they have nothing to show for it. I think we’d all hate to see Cleveland lay down and die tomorrow, so here’s to a battle and at least one more basketball game in 2017.