With the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers deadlocked heading into Game 3 of the NBA Finals, there was plenty to play for as the winner of this matchup, historically speaking, winds up being victorious 84% of the time in a best-of-seven series.
For the third straight game, the Warriors were unable to cross the 100-point plateau in regulation as the Cavaliers defense made things difficult for Golden State across the board.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, their own struggles on the offensive end allowed for their opponent to storm back from a 20-point third quarter deficit to make things interesting in the game’s final minutes.
In the end, it was another big game from LeBron James, as well as a spirited effort from Matthew Dellavedova, that allowed for the Cavaliers to come away with a 96-91 victory at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night and seize control of the NBA Finals.
Without further ado, here are three thoughts from Game 3 between the Cavaliers and Warriors.
1) Cleveland couldn’t close the door on Golden State in crunch time
The Cavaliers could have closed this matchup out without much trouble had they not stalled on the offensive end to start the final 12 minutes of action allowing for the Warriors to storm back into the game.
Golden State did a great job of not allowing for LeBron James, or any of his teammates, to get clean looks at the basket down the stretch and that wound up changing the complexion of the game completely.
Whether this was simply a matter of the shots not falling, as the Warriors contend was the issue for Stephen Curry in Game 2, or Golden State’s defense suffocating Cleveland’s offensive attack, the Cavaliers were very close to letting a great opportunity pass them by.
2) The Cavaliers need for LeBron James to threaten for a triple-double every game
While it may seem a bit outlandish to say, the Cavaliers really need for LeBron James to provide a Herculean effort night in and night out for Cleveland to have any chance of picking up a win in this Finals series and he did just that for his team on Tuesday night.
Even though it wasn’t an especially efficient performance, James stuffed the stat sheet for the Cavaliers yet again as he did just enough of everything in order to help lead Cleveland to victory.
Despite finishing just shy of his second consecutive triple-double in this series, James led the way for the Cavs with 40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocked shots in 46 minutes of action.
James has scored 123 points in the first three games of this series and that is the most of any player in NBA history on the league’s biggest stage.
3) Stephen Curry found his shooting stroke in the second half
After struggling mightily from the field in Game 2, the NBA’s MVP scored the Warriors first points of the night before going through another elongated cold streak.
Even though it seemingly came too late to impact the outcome of Game 3 on Tuesday night, Curry was able to shoot himself out of the funk that he’d been fighting during the second half as he helped spur Golden State’s comeback by scoring 24 of his 27 points in the final 24 minutes of regulation.
Ideally, Curry will be able to carry this effort from the second half over to Game 4 on Thursday night as it is extremely clear that this Warriors team functions at an entirely different level when he’s on top of his game.