Monday, 21 January, 2019

Warriors take Game 3 as Durant flips script on LeBron

Kevin Durant celebrates with Stephen Curry and Nick Young against the Cleveland Cavaliers (EZRA SHAW  GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA  AFP Kevin Durant celebrates with Stephen Curry and Nick Young against the Cleveland Cavaliers (EZRA SHAW GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA AFP
Kristopher Love | 07 June, 2018, 23:50

In what was then the two teams' third consecutive NBA Finals, 2016 champs the Cavs went on to triumph in Game 4 of the 2017 series before being shut down in Game 5 in Oakland and the 2015 champs GSW became the 2017 champions.

Instead the Warriors are up 3-0 with a chance to sweep Friday. This time, there was no "Cavs in 7" tweet, but Smith joked Thursday that he wanted to tweet it. But like I said, to hold Steph to 11 and Klay to 10, we did a good job in that regard.

They just couldn't stop Kevin Durant.

They led by six at half-time, but the Warriors grabbed the initiative in the third, outscoring the Cavaliers 31-23 to take an 83-81 lead into the fourth quarter.

"Kevin was the story in the first half, just keeping us in it", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

"That's not setting a good precedent for me if I'm like, 'Man, I'm taking 10, '" NBC Sports reports him saying. A billboard-sized picture of Durant's 3-pointer would later be hung in the team's practice gym.

Instead, Cleveland is only left to wonder if James is a game from leaving.

Clutch play: One reason the Cavs are still standing at this point in the season is that they have been excellent in crunch time, winning seven of 10 playoff games that the National Basketball Association deems as clutch (within five points with five minutes to go). He shot 4-for-4 on free throws.

LeBron's first 12 shots all the paint. It was eerily reminiscent of the three-point bomb he hit in the face of James in Game 3 of last year's Finals which, like this one, gave the Warriors a daunting 3-0 series lead.

With less than a minute left in the first half, Iguodala went to the locker room with a right leg contusion.

That's why, as Sports Illustrated's Rohan Nadkarni wrote, the National Basketball Association needs James to leave Cleveland in order to create a tougher challenge to Golden State. Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 rebounds and J.R. Smith finished with 13 points, finally making some shots. That was why Cleveland was able to take 11 more shots on the night, valuable possessions when trying to upset Golden State.

If the rest of the playoffs are any indication, the return to his home court in Cleveland should translate to greater scoring production, not to mention the opportunity to catch a breath or two during what should be plenty of trips to the free-throw line. He converted only three of his 16 attempts from the field - and one of 10 in 3-pointers - for 11 total points, and unlike Games 1 and 2, wasn't terribly effective attacking off the bounce.

"As a fan of the National Basketball Association, you could go down the list of the teams that won multiple years and just dominated the league for stretches of time", Curry said. "Tomorrow I'll replay some plays and some moments, things of that nature". I'm calling LeBron in seven, I'm just calling it. "[Kevin Durant] play one-on-one, because he's going to get his", Brown explained.