Warriors rally for 3-0 series lead
- Author: Carolyn Briggs Jun 09, 2017,
Jun 09, 2017, 9:58
James bent Golden State's defense to his will while Irving sliced through it.
But in the end, it was the Warriors' stars who survived a raucous environment, a two-pronged offensive attack and a seven-point fourth-quarter hole, erasing numerous demons that plagued them from a season ago.
Golden State outscored Cleveland, 11-0, in the final three minutes of Wednesday's decisive battle - pulling away late to hand the Cavaliers a crushing 118-113 defeat, putting them in a 0-3 hole with Game 4 of the 2017 Finals slated for Friday night at The Q.
The key shot in the run was a three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining that put the Warriors up 114-113.
"I've played against some great teams, but I don't think any team has had this type of firepower", James said. "For that one to go in, that was liberating right there". But Cleveland's supporting class has just appeared to be grossly outclassed by the Warriors.
That certainly was the case in the final minutes Wednesday.
The big three scorers for Golden State, meanwhile, put up numbers consistent with their philosophy of sharing the ball - with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combining for 87 points. "We literally have never once mentioned 16-0", Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Game Three today.
"Even when you're playing well, you got to play like A plus plus, because they're going to make runs and they're going to make shots and they got guys that's going to make plays", he said.
Curry had 26 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals and only one turnover, which in a game like this, was pretty respectable, considering turnovers were a problem early.
With Durant, the Warriors found another gear against the Cavaliers, winning the opening two games by 22 points and 19 points respectively.
"We talked about it since the Finals last year that the last season was a very unique year, for a lot of different reasons, and we learned a lot", Curry said.
The Cavaliers then had a pair of chances to tie or take the lead.
LeBron James, however, insists that Cleveland would resist changing their style of play on offence because they "don't play slowdown basketball". The Warriors will be champions. "We just wanted to stay around". "And just we obviously - we want 16 wins; it doesn't matter how we get there". We play our game.
Cleveland came out making everything - hitting 11 of its 20 shots in the first quarter and getting to the line seven times - but so, too, did Golden State.
The Warriors are 15-0 in the post-season and another victory in game four would see them become the first team to go through the play-offs unbeaten.
Kevin Durant was the biggest prize of last year's offseason and on Wednesday he showed why the Warriors were so keen to get him, draining the shot of his career to put Golden State on the cusp of an unprecedented ideal postseason. That wound up being the only time he sat in the first half.
Cleveland's hungry, sure, but it's the kind of hunger you feel when you skip lunch and have to wait for a late dinner. "Came down to the stretch, and they made some big-time plays".
"They're a juggernaut of a team", said Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 38 points in game three. After struggling, at least by his standards, in both games in Oakland, Irving was back to his explosive self.
A quick aside to the LeBron James haters.
The loss left the Cavaliers shell-shocked. But Durant had other ideas.
This time, they did it in Cleveland.