There’s a reason why Kevin Durant’s Instagram moniker was @easymoneysniper (before he deleted his account) and the Cleveland Cavaliers are finding that out. He’s been dominant so far in the NBA Finals, and Wednesday night was no different as he helped Golden State to a 118-133 win in a pivotal Game 3. While Cleveland came back from a 3-0 deficit to win last year, it looks like the offseason addition of Durant is closing any opportunity for that to happen again.
To avoid an insurmountable 3-0 deficit, the Cavaliers needed their best game from everyone in the rotation, on both ends of the floor.
— Tailgate Sports (@_tailgatesports) June 8, 2017
For most of Game 3, they got it, but it wasn’t enough as Kevin Durant, who scored 31 points, and the Warriors defeated the Cavs 118-113 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena to move a win away from their second NBA championship in three seasons.
Cleveland played with a sense of urgency early. J.R. Smith, scoreless in Game 2, knocked down a pair of first-quarter threes while LeBron James continued a string of strong opening quarters, scoring 16 points.
After committing 20-turnovers in Game 2, the Warriors continued to be sloppy, turning the ball over six times in the first quarter. That sloppiness was countered by a blistering 3-point assault. Golden State knocked down a record nine threes in the first quarter, finishing with a 39-32 lead.
To put things in perspective, Steph Curry had more rebounds in the 4th quarter than Tristan Thompson had THE ENTIRE GAME. #NBAFinals
— Neale (@AbeFroman) June 8, 2017
Both offenses cooled off in the second. For days, Kevin Love has been tabbed as a possible scapegoat if the Cavaliers bowed out of the Finals early. Love struggled in the first half, missing all five of his shots, drawing catcalls from some of the 20,562 in the building.
Golden State held a six-point lead at the half, with its favorite quarter to come. The third quarter had been the Warriors’ best in the Finals, with Golden State holding a plus-24 advantage in the third through two games. In Game 3, the third belonged to Kyrie Irving.
After struggling to find his shot in Game 2, Irving came alive Wednesday night. To shed the defense of Thompson, the Cavs put Irving in a steady diet of pick-and-rolls, and Irving responded with a series-high 38 points, including 16 in the third. Love shook off a shaky first half to chip in nine points in the quarter.
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James did all they could tonight.
— ProCity Hoops (@ProCityHoops) June 8, 2017
Cleveland took a six-point lead into the fourth. And then the back and forth began. A Durant 3-pointer cut the Cavaliers’ lead to two with six minutes left. A minute later, a Klay Thompson three sliced the lead to one. A J.R. Smith three swelled the lead back to six with three minutes left.
Enter, Durant. With a 1:15 left, Durant knocked down a 13-footer to cut the lead to two. Then, with 45 seconds to play, Durant coolly drained a 26-foot three in front of James to give Golden State a one-point lead. A pair of Durant free throws extended the lead to three, and a strip steal by Andre Iguodala on James sealed the win for Golden State.
— Brian H. Waters (@brianhwaters) June 8, 2017