CLEVELAND — Enjoying the function of LeBron James on Wednesday night time was Kevin Durant.
In a recreation during which Durant was pressured to shoulder a lot of the scoring load as a result of his teammates couldn’t shoot, and LeBron James was his regular self however acquired main contributions from the fellows who had performed little or no in Oakland, it was the Golden State Warriors who outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers by a 110-102 rating.
Durant hit an absurdly lengthy three-pointer with lower than a minute left to provide Golden State a six-point lead, a part of his 43-point, 13-rebound efficiency. It was eerily harking back to the three-point bomb he hit within the face of James in Recreation Three of final 12 months’s NBA Finals which, like this one, gave the Warriors a frightening 3-Zero collection lead.
Steph Curry missed his first 9 three-point makes an attempt, however hit a giant one late, and completed with simply 11 factors. Nobody else aside from Durant had greater than 10 factors for the Warriors.
James, in the meantime, had 33 factors, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He acquired 10 factors from Kevin Love and a shock 15 from Rodney Hood, who had simply 9 factors mixed within the final eight Cavs video games, however it was not sufficient to fend off Durant’s brilliance.
“That was superb, what he did,” mentioned Warriors coach Steve Kerr, referring to Durant. “A few of these photographs, I don’t suppose anybody on this planet can hit them, however him.”
Kerr mentioned they determined mid-game to cease operating the offence by Curry, who had been nice within the first two video games however couldn’t discover his shot right here. As an alternative, the Warriors went to their different former MVP.
“They elevate one another up,” Kerr mentioned. “That’s a fairly good luxurious, for positive.”
It’s additionally a grim reminder of the problem dealing with not simply the Cavaliers on this collection, however the remainder of the league for so long as these guys wish to play collectively.
Cleveland did what it had been saying it might do for 2 days — come out higher on residence courtroom — and the Cavs led for your entire first half, thanks partly to that horrible taking pictures from the Warriors. After Golden State raced out to a 2-Zero collection lead in these Finals, it appeared just like the Cavs might solely win with both a sizzling taking pictures night time or a dreadful one from the Warriors. They acquired slightly of each, and nonetheless it wasn’t sufficient.
Not when Golden State can roll out Durant, who can rating from wherever, and he scores from in all places.
“It was a giant shot,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue mentioned of Durant’s late bomb.
“He’s top-of-the-line one-on-one gamers in our league. Holding Steph to 10 factors and Klay (Thompson) to 11, you’d suppose you’ll win the sport.”
For a Toronto-based sports activities author, it’s an odd feeling to come back to Cleveland and see the house crew as heavy underdogs. The Raptors have made 4 playoff journeys to the south shore of Lake Erie previously three years, and they’re a clean 0-7 over that point. (Throw within the Blue Jays and the American League Championship Collection two years in the past, and Toronto is 0-10 in Cleveland in latest post-season play.)
The Raptors’ oh-fer right here doesn’t even clarify the extent of dominance. Three of the Cavs’ wins over them on this area have been by greater than 30 factors and in solely one among them was the margin of victory lower than 9. That one might need been essentially the most painful of all — Recreation Three of the East semis this 12 months, when the Raptors fought again to tie the sport late after which watched as LeBron hit a operating, one-legged floater off the glass to mainly rip the Raptors’ hearts out and doubtless value their coach his job.
What the Raptors have seen up shut is that on this area, the place the house crew had received eight straight within the playoffs this season, the Cavaliers could be a nightmare: James orchestrating all of it, as he does, but additionally an array of shooters who can gentle up the scoreboard from three-point vary.
If Cleveland was going to make this a collection, that was the crew that wanted to indicate up on Wednesday night time.
From the outset of Recreation 3, these appeared like totally different Cavaliers. Kevin Love drilled a tone-setting three-pointer on the primary possession, sending the gang into matches, and J.R. Smith, who most positively didn’t get pleasure from his journey to Oakland, hit one quickly thereafter. Cleveland jumped out to a 10-point lead within the first 4 minutes, proving as soon as once more the considerably weird proven fact that NBA groups have a behavior of hitting much more open photographs on their residence courtroom. The edges are alleged to be the identical, however the outcomes are fairly totally different.
One factor was the identical within the early going: James was a monster, with six factors and 5 assists within the first quarter, punctuated by the off-the-backboard dunk that’s usually solely tried in an All-Star Recreation or a dunk contest.
By the point the primary half ended with Cleveland up by six, the Warriors had chipped away at large Cavaliers leads twice, thanks principally to Durant, who had 24 factors within the half. He picked the proper time to be dominant, since Curry and Klay Thompson shot a mixed 3-for-15 within the first half. Durant was 3-for-Four on three-pointers, the remainder of his crew was 1-for-10 from distance within the half. It’s a hell of a luxurious to have Durant on a crew that had already received a title one 12 months and 73 video games the following.
The Warriors promptly erased that six-point deficit when the second half opened, tying the sport after lower than two minutes of recreation time.
The Quicken Loans Enviornment crowd acquired decidedly nervous. It was powerful accountable them.