durant keys warriors’ 118-113 game 3 win

So here we are. Just over one week removed from the start of the NBA Finals – the first trilogy in NBA history – and it’s already over.

 Well, maybe not officially. But down 0-3, a deficit no team has ever come back from in NBA history, the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be finished. The might of the Golden State Warriors has proven to be too strong for yet another 2017 foe. Only one team, of course, has come back from down 1-3…

Although no other postseason opponent posed the same kind of threat as the Cavs did heading in to the series, the Warriors have made quick work of them through three games. The first two wins came with such ease that prompted the revival of historical comparisons between these Warriors and a team from NBA past.  

The 1995-96 Bulls? Magic Johnson’s ‘Showtime’ Lakers? The 2001 Lakers? Arguments can be made for and against each team. The league has changed a lot in thirty years. Rules favor little men and three-point shooting in a way that has flipped the math of the upside-down. It makes for fun discussion, sure, but does it really mean anything?

One thing it does mean for sure, is these Warriors are really good.

 

And here they are on the doorstep of history, one game away from going undefeated in the NBA playoffs. Regardless of competition, it’s hard to beat the same team four times in a row in the playoffs. During the regular season, you play and team and then move on to the next team, sometimes in consecutive days.  In the playoffs, there’s only one opponent at a time, giving teams the opportunity to study their opposite inside and out. Each side has the film on the other, they know their tricks.

In this series, it doesn’t matter how well the Cavs know the Warriors, or vice-versa. Three games have been enough to show us the Warriors are the superior team.

Game 3 was the must-win game of the series for Cleveland, but Kevin Durant has been so cold (as in on-fire) this entire series that he had to be the one to snatch it away from the Cavs. In LeBron’s face, no less. I’m talking about his last-minute three to put Golden State up for good, in case your memory needs a refresh.

 

Cleveland didn’t give the Warriors their best shot in Game 3, yet it might’ve been the best we see from them this series. Kryie Irving and Kevin Love combined to shoot 1-14 from three-point range, yet Game 3 was their best chance at a win so far. This is for a Cavs team that finished second in the NBA in three-point shooting this season, but has shot poorly from downtown this series.

Also, paging Tristan Thompson…anyone? Bueller?

Overlooked on so many occasions is the Warriors defense. They can play on the perimeter like no other team in the league. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green – and even Steph Curry sometimes – are routinely playing that octopus-defense. It’s just like tentacles everywhere! While the argument can be made that the Cavs could play better, can we reasonably expect them to? Especially against this defense?

 

The ending of Game 3 was fitting for the series as a whole.  

The last shot the Cavs made in the final four minutes of the game came from J.R. Smith, who finally put together a strong performance after Cleveland had been bereft of decent supporting-cast play in Oakland. But as soon as someone outside of LeBron, Irving, and Love got going, Kevin Durant was right there to take center stage.

A dagger three from Durant put the Warriors up for good, for the season. It took a miracle last year, and it’ll take one again to reroute the course of history.

Durant may have a few more stages to take by the end of the month.