We’ve been here before, right? Cavs vs Warriors, NBA Finals, LeBron James scoring self alley-oop dunks, Kevin Durant hitting dagger 3-point shots, etc.
You know the deal.
It’s almost a highlight-by-highlight repeat of last year’s 7-game match-up except this year, it’s actually more exciting. For the Golden State Warriors, i.e. Not for Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors have taken a commanding 3-0 lead in this year’s finals already and one more victory will see them beat the Cavs yet again to be crowned as NBA champions.
But what exactly is wrong with Cleveland and why aren’t they proving to be much of a challenge?
Why is it that LeBron James is in arguably the best form of his life and it’s still not enough to push past the monolithic dominance of the Warriors juggernaut? Game 3 proved to me a few things about this match-up, something which I’m going to analyze in this article.
So, let’s take a look at the 3 major takeaways from the Cavs vs Warriors Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals and see what the future holds:
#1. The Cavs Aren’t Enjoying Their Basketball:
After defeating the Boston Celtics 4-3 in the Eastern Conference finals with a superhuman game 7 performance by LeBron James (who did the virtually impossible by defeating Celtics at their home court), the Cavs looked sharp, confident and hungry to win the NBA Finals.
Walking into Game 1 of the finals, LeBron James scored 51 POINTS. I’D LIKE TO REPEAT: 51 POINTS. BUT THE CAVS STILL LOST, thanks to J.R. Smith’s almighty howler by dribbling the ball out with 4.7 seconds remaining, even when the scores were tied.
The Warriors capitalized in overtime to win the game and ever since then, it just seems like the Cavs have been robbed off of their confidence and hunger. Game 1 impacted their mindsets quite a lot, since they were almost on the verge of clinching it and that would’ve been a huge morale booster.
Footage of LeBron being upset and asking his coach Tyronn Lue if they had any timeouts left during the game has gone viral and J.R. Smith’s contradictory statements about his actions have made the media impressions only more problematic.
Game 3 was no different as the Cavs looked like the had taken the foot of the gas in some moments in the 3rd and 4th quarter, something which was punished by the Warriors, who have developed somewhat of a reputation for being clinical in 3rd quarters. Cleveland may have resisted their charge but couldn’t overcome it. If they’re playing in the finals, they need to act like it.
#2. The Cavs Starters Other Than LeBron James Haven’t Stepped Up:
The 4 players of the starting 5 of the Cavaliers roster have been relatively extremely inefficient compared to their 4-time MVP teammate, LeBron James.
Except Kevin Love, no one has stepped up to take the scoring, assisting and rebounding responsibilities (Love doesn’t usually assist players but he racks up a lot of rebounds and is great near the post) to allow a more coherent and fluid game-play on the court for the Cavs and this has hurt their chances, a lot.
Tristan Thompson scoring just 8 points in 37 minutes and George Hill scoring only 7 in 27 minutes was a red alert in game 3.
Adding to that, the rotation hasn’t helped the Cavs either as it was only yesterday that Rodney Hood came to life, scoring 15 points and even driving to the dunk during the game. That had me surprised, as well.
But even then, it was Kevin Love with 20 points and LeBron James with 33 points and a triple double (33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) that drew the Cavs close to Warriors but even then, Kevin Durant’s 43 points made all the difference in the Cavs vs Warriors match-up.
This brings me to my last major takeaway from this seemingly over series.
#3. LeBron James Is The Best Player In The World But Golden State Warriors Might Just Be The Best Team:
On a day when Stephen Curry plays for 39 minutes and scores only 11 points and Klay Thompson plays for 41 minutes and scores only 10, you know it for sure that the Golden State Warriors are having a rough day.
But in the absence of 2 of their superstars, their 3rd superstar took the game by storm as Kevin Durant went on to score 43 points, along with 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
This is where the difference was made that even though Durant struggled throughout the entire time in Game 2 and his poor shooting was overshadowed and bailed out by Curry and Thompson, it was Durant who stepped up in Game 3 and provided some quality offense, with the Warriors bench players also playing their roles efficiently as Javale McGee, Jordan Bell and Shaun Livingston scored 10, 10 and 8 points respectively in 14, 17 and 12 minutes of their time on the court.
For all the might and masterclass of LeBron James over the 3 games, the Warriors bench has looked considerably more comfortable and in sync as compared to the Cavaliers bench. Adding to that, the Warriors play like a proper unit compared to the Cavaliers, where it’s generally about LeBron James making crucial plays and helping his teammates.
And that’s where the difference was made, majorly.
No team has come from being 0-3 down to win the next 4 games and make it 4-3. Even with LeBron James on your side, it’s virtually impossible to stop the Warriors, especially when LeBron has to do it alone with some flashes of brilliance from Kevin Love.
For now, the series is over for most of the people except the Cavs faithful.
Here’s to a thrilling Game 4.
Image Credits: Google Images
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