“All I was looking at the bottom of the net. I saw LeBron was playing his heels behind the three-point line. I’ve been working on that shot my whole life. To see that go in, that was liberating, man. We’ve got one more to go.”—Kevin Durant
The Golden State Warriors scored the game’s final 11 points to steal Game 3 of the 2017 Finals from Cleveland en route to a 118-113 road victory that now puts them up 3-0 in this best-of-seven series.
How the Warriors got in that position is one position. How they finished the task is another.
So in the interests of deconstructing the crime, we will tell the story from last to first so you can see exactly how the Warriors won a game everyone in the Quickens Loans Arena building thought was surely destined for Cavs’ victory.
“It’s the most firepower I’ve played in my career. I’ve played against some great teams, but I don’t think no team has had this type of firepower.”—LeBron James
The turning point came in the game’s final three minutes, after a slashing LeBron James found an open J.R. Smith on the right perimeter for a wide-open 26-foot three-pointer that gave Cleveland a six-point lead, 113-107.
It would be the Cavaliers’ final bucket of the night, even though Cleveland had five more possessions in the game, which included three additional possessions extended by Cavs’ offensive rebounds.
But even with the eight attempts, Cleveland was shut out during the game’s last three minutes, thanks to the efforts of the Warriors’ end-of-game lockdown defenders—Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
The legendary Lineup of Death was picture-perfect in taking away isolation plays from both LeBron (39 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists) and Kyrie Irving (38 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists) down the stretch, not to mention kickouts to key contributors like Smith (missed trey attempt), Kevin Love (missed layup), Kyle Korver (missed trey attempt) and Love again (missed trey attempt).
Conversely, the Warriors’ offense made all the big shots at all the right times, with Curry dropping a key bucket with 2:18 left to cut the lead to 4, Durant making a 15-foot baseline turnaround over Tristan Thompson that narrowed the deficit to 2 with 1: 15 left and the surprising pull-up three-pointer by Durant over LeBron with 45 seconds remaining that gave Golden State the 114-113 lead–its first lead of the fourth quarter.
THE DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/XBfCktF934
— ESPN (@espn) June 8, 2017
When Cleveland would continue misfire on their next possessions, both Durant (2 for 2) and Curry (2 for 2) would hit the necessary free throws to insure 118-113 victory in Cleveland Thursday.
It was the culmination of the perfect basketball heist movie.
Only, instead of calling this Ocean’s Eleven, we’ll call this Warriors’ Eleven, in honor of KD’s seven and Curry’s four unanswered game-ending points.
This climactic scene was fitting because our Dynastic Duo of KD & Steph had another most impressive game, and once again was joined on the main stage by original Splash Brother Klay Thompson, who had his second straight stellar shooting night after spending most of Golden State’s postseason run as their team’s most impressive lockdown defender.
Many splashes pic.twitter.com/UgQMOnNXvA
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 8, 2017
In Game 3, Thompson finished with 30 points on .794 true shooting percentage, which included 6-of-11 on three-pointers and 5-of-7 on twos.
Kevin Durant put the Cavs away in Game 3. pic.twitter.com/JvNdX7gg4g
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 8, 2017
Durant was equally compelling, scoring 31 points on .720 true shooting percentage, which included 4-of-7 on three-pointers, 6-of-11 on twos and 7-of-8 at the free throw line, in addition to 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Last, but not least, Curry was a monster overall, not only supplying 26 points on .613 true shooting percentage, including 5-of-9 three-pointers, but also amassing 6 assists and a team-high 13 rebounds, giving him now 29 rebounds in three Finals games.
When you revisit the scene of the crime, it’s no wonder Cleveland’s All-Stars can do no right in comparison, even when LeBron and Kyrie put up 39 and 38 points apiece on an efficient 27 and 29 shots, respectively, while Love gets himself 13 rebounds and 6 steals.
As good as the Cavs may play on any given Wednesday, it’s pretty much impossible to beat a trio that puts up 87 points on 55 shots for a .706 true shooting percentage.
It really is as simple as that.
Remember, it’s one thing when LeBron can average 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on a .639 true shooting percentage during the 2017 Finals.
It’s quite another when the other team can counter with a Curry who nearly matches the triple-double average with his own 29-10-9 stat line on .648 true shooting percentage, and have it backed by KD’s 34-10-6 stat line on impeccable .686 true shooting percentage on the series.
|Kevin Durant||41||0||31 (.720)||6-11||4-7||7-8||8||4/3||1 & 1|
|Klay Thompson||41||+3||30 (.794)||5-7||6-11||2-2||6||2/1||0 & 0|
|Stephen Curry||39||+11||26 (.613)||3-10||5-9||5-5||13||6/1||2 & 0|
Key: MIN minutes; +/- plus-minus; PTS points; TSP true shooting percentage; 2FG 2-point field goals and attempts; 3FG 3-point field goals and attempts; FT free throws and attempts; REB rebounds; AST/TO assists/turnovers; STL & BLK steals and blocks.