The Cavs put on a fearless face Thursday, a day after giving the Warriors their absolute best shot in every way but still lost, 118-113, in Game 3.
But the Warriors had other plans, especially Durant as he led his team on an incredible 11-0 run over the final three minutes, including a crushing three-pointer with 45 seconds to play that put his Golden State ahead for good.
The referees at Quicken Loans Arena failed to maintain any control over the game and halted any flow the clash could have had with multiple reviews and questionable technical fouls that led to confusion and more delays.
Golden State has yet to lose a game in this season's playoffs. They also didn't have Durant, who has been the MVP of the series thus far.
We can talk about how the Spurs were wounded by the time the Warriors played them in the Western Conference finals. "Let's not forget he's averaging [34 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists] in the NBA Finals, you just don't do that". "He's earned it. He has been in this league for a long time and he's, I think, at the top of his game at the biggest time". We will never know if the Warriors would have gone on to win the championship if Iguodala had made his shot in Game 7 past year, when the Warriors were in the same kind of late-game freefall the Cavs were in late Wednesday night in Cleveland. He loves to play basketball, and loved the way the Warriors play it. "But I think that we just stayed with it, and our defense finally kicked in".
He was comfortable and we tried to make it as uncomfortable as possible. "I want to compete for championships every year, and so we'll see what happens".
In his postgame interview, he used the word "liberating" to describe the shot, the moment.
"It's part of the rules", James said. "They're definitely a different team than they were previous year", he added.
"You can tell, he knows this is his moment. And that's what he's been doing". The Cavs will need much more than the usual James and Irving show to become the first team this Playoffs to beat Warriors.
Cavaliers: James (1,175) passed Sam Jones (1,143), Bill Russell (1,151) and Elgin Baylor (1,161) to move into fourth place on the NBA Finals scoring list.
While the Warriors' bad trio clicked (Durant 31 points, Klay Thompson 30 and Curry 26), not their Cavs' counterparts, though; Love proved to be the missing link. "None of these guys are ball-dominant players". They have a core of four All-NBA players in their prime and a fairly simple path to keeping them together.
A hand that will soon have a championship ring. You want to take that shot because you believe in yourself and you'll live with the results.