After the Warriors’ game three win over the Cavs, here are my initial thoughts. More on the podcast tomorrow.
1) Durant somehow, someway gets it done
After disappearing in the third quarter, Durant found a way to stay engaged to the tune of 14 fourth-quarter points with seven of those coming in the final three minutes. I am still trying to figure out how he did that over the final minutes. Congrats to the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, you earned and solidified it tonight.
2) LeBron carries the Cavs when no one else did
LeBron completed the best half (22 minutes, 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists) in an NBA Finals game statically according to Basketball Reference:
At one point, James had 23 points and the rest of the Cavs team had 25; it was truly a one man effort at this point in the game.
Now with all that said, he just didn’t do enough down the stretch. Is it harsh after what he did? Yup, but it wasn’t enough. He let Irving do the heavy lifting down the stretch, but couldn’t even step up as that role player. It is games like this that people point to, to use against LeBron because of his lack of finishing ability.
3) This is what this Finals was suppose to be
Coming into this series, I, among countless others, thought this could be a top three NBA Finals ever. While the first two games were fun to watch because of the Warriors’ greatness, they were obviously disappointing. This, an entertaining close game from tip to buzzer, is exactly why everyone was willing to wait throughout the lackluster playoffs. The back and forth and great basketball made this a great game to watch with an insane amount of talent on the floor; don’t take it for granted. Unfortunately, it will be over in four or five games.
1) Kevin Durant
I mean I said it earlier, to be able to hit those shots with confidence is big time and can’t be talked about enough. If there is one game we are going to remember Durant for, it is probably going to be this. What we are going to forget is that until the final several minutes, he looked lost and disinterested which is exactly why he deserves so much credit.
2) Kyrie Irving
When he saw that LeBron was clearly tired in the third quarter, Irving just flat out took over to the tune of 16 points. At times, “Uncle Drew” made the Warriors’ defense look silly as they doubled James and he took advantage. I mean, LeBron had just 12 points in the second half and this wouldn’t of even been a game if it wasn’t for Kyrie.
However, as good as he was, he still didn’t show up over the final two minutes when it really counted.
3) LeBron James
Listen, as good as he was in the first half (why he is still an up), he just didn’t do enough down the stretch. The best player in the World looked tired and out of rhythm. LeBron seemed content to watch Irving take over in the second half, but in hindsight that may have been exactly what hurt him late in the fourth. Sorry, seven points in the final quarter with none of them coming over the final three minutes is inexcusable. He has to be better – coming from a “LeBron apologist.”
1) Kevin Love
Listen, I know he did some of the small things when struggling to shoot the ball, but Love isn’t in Cleveland just to rebound, he has to score. After the Eastern Conference Finals he has done more than just disappoint, it has been bordering on disappearing. In fact, that is exactly what he did tonight.
2) Draymond Green
He is known as the Warriors emotional rock and in this series he has been that to a fault. Green has been more concerned about the refs than who he’s trying to score on.
3) Tristan Thompson
In a game in which the Cavs could have used a player exactly like Thompson, he didn’t show up. I mean zero points? Kyle Korver and JR Smith even stepped up tonight, but you can’t even rebound? Just three rebounds, are you kidding me? At some point roll players had to step up and Thompson could have been that. Instead, his most noticeable play of the night is when he gave a cooled shoulder right to LeBron’s face.
Tomorrow: Podcast with my full breakdown of this game
-Article by Nick Friend