Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the Cleveland Cavaliers season was on the line. To have a chance to save the 2016–17 season, the Cavs desparately needed a monster game from both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving — and that’s exactly what they got.
LeBron finished the game with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in 46 minutes while Kyrie added in 38 points in 44 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, LeBron and Kyrie’s maximum effort came up short in the end though. But let’s take a look at the game that just barely slipped away from them.
In the first quarter, the Cavs started out hot. LeBron in particular couldn’t miss.
LeBron was unstoppable in the first quarter and when he exited the game, the Cavs had a 32–29 lead with 1:49 left.
Of course, everything fell apart when LeBron subbed out, and Golden State ended the first with a 39–32 lead.
To start the game, James made 10 of his first 11 attempts from the field. He had 27 points in the first half, which tied his Finals record for most points in a half.
Meanwhile, Golden State was locked in on both ends of the floor.
Curry was on fire in the first half too.
The Cavs gained some momentum heading into halftime with an outrageous finish from none other than Kyrie Irving.
In the third quarter, the Cavs really took over the game — outscoring Golden State 33–22 in the period. Much of their success was thanks to 16 points from Kyrie Irving.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Cleveland had a 94–89 lead. At various points in the quarter, it looked like they had the game wrapped up.
Fourth quarter scoring has been a major area of concern for Cleveland in this series though — especially for LeBron who has really struggled to score in the final period. Whether it’s fatigue or something else, he’s clearly been less effective in the fourth.
The same thing happened again in game 3 where Durant had more points in the 4th quarter in one game than LeBron has had in all three 4th quarters combined in the series.
Cleveland actually had most of the momentum throughout the quarter. But things started to change when Durant hit a huge three with about six minutes left in the game.
After that, Kyrie was able to drain a wild shot off the backboard against Klay.
One thing is for sure — no one is better at laying it in than Kyrie.
But the Cavaliers didn’t do much scoring after that. In fact, the Cavs didn’t score in the final 3:09 of the game. In the final five minutes, LeBron and Kyrie were a combined 0–6 from the field.
Durant, on the other hand, couldn’t miss.
In what will likely go down as one of the most memorable moments of his career thus far, KD drained the most important shot of this series.
For all of the scutiny he’s received this year, Durant stepped up in a major moment for Golden State in game 3.
With just under 50 seconds to go, KD pulled up for a transition 3-pointer with Golden State down two points — he drained it right in LeBron’s eye.
After that, Kyrie attempted to save Cleveland with some late game heroics, but Klay Thompson was able to get the Christmas Day revenge that has likely been haunting him since December.
The revenge wasn’t over just yet though.
In one final attempt to save the game, LeBron attempted to pull up for a quick 3-pointer with the Cavs down three. Andre Iguodala had other plans though.
Iggy stripped the ball from James, helping to erase James’ famous 2016 Finals block on him from his memory.
Now, the Golden State Warriors have a commanding 3–0 lead. Game 4 is on Friday night, and the Warriors will look to finish the post-season a perfect 16–0.
The Cavs however have not given up hope just yet. In fact, JR Smith seems to believe the Cavs can come back and win in seven.
They came back from 3–1 last year, so technically coming back from 3–0 is not out of the realm of possibilities. But it certainly seems unlikely given Golden State’s talent and the lack of history on their side.