We finally had a nail-biter and one hell of a game. The stars from both teams came to play and they put on a dazzling show. Final score was 118-113 Warriors. JR Smith banged a three with 2:30 left in the game to make the score 113-107 Cavs. That would be the last points that the Cavs would score for the remainder of the game. The Warriors closed the game with an 11-0 run…. Dagger !!!
The only unhappy campers with the outcome of the game were the Cav’s players, organization, fans, Charles Barkley and ABC/Disney. Barkey is a Warrior hater and doesn’t think a “jump shooting” team should ever win a championship. If one analyzes the strength of the Warriors, it is their suffocating defense that leads the way and creates offensive opportunities. ABC/Disney loses $75 million per game that it can’t televise. So, naturally, they are hoping for a 7 game series. Speaking of 7 game series, JR Smith tweeted last night, “Cavs in 7”, then deleted it. I think he meant to tweet, “Cavs in for practice at 7:00 am on Thursday as the last practice of the year”.
Let’s take a look at the stars’ performances from both teams:
- LeBron James (39 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) while playing 45 minutes.
- Kyrie Irving (38 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) while playing 44 minute.
- LeBron and Kyrie combined for 77 of the Cav’s 107 points.
Of note for the Cavs:
- JR Smith broke out and made 5 three pointers for a total of 16 points.
- Kevin Durant (31 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) while playing 40 minutes.
- Klay Thompson (30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists while playing 40 minutes.
- Steph Curry (26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) while playing 39 minutes.
- KD, Klay, and Steph combined for 87 of the Warrior’s 113 points.
Of note for the Warriors:
- Although Draymond Green played only 33 minutes due to foul problems, he had the largest +/- differential while he was on the court… He was +14. Draymond’s play consistently goes well beyond any box scores. He is the heartbeat of the Warriors!
- Andre Iguodala played 30 minutes and had a +/- differential of +10 behind only Draymond’s +14 and Steph’s +11. There was a reason why Andre was the MVP of the Finals two years ago!
In a game this close, there are always some plays that occur during the course of the game that play a large role in the outcome. Here are a few of them:
- In the 2nd quarter, LeBron threw a lob pass into Kevin Love who was guarded by Draymond. The pass was so bad, it went into the basket for 2 points, plus a foul was called on Draymond.
- Right before halftime with the score 67-59 Warriors, they had the last shot with KD controlling the ball. For some unexplained reason Zaza blatantly fouled trying to set a screen. The foul lead to Irving driving in for a layup at the buzzer. Instead of a 10 or 11 point lead, the Warriors went into halftime with only a 6 point lead. Steph was visibly upset at Zaza.
- Early in the 3rd quarter, KD had an open lane for an easy dunk but again, Zaza foolishly committed an unnecessary foul negating the dunk.
In terms of the play of both Centers (Zaza Pachulia and Tristen Thompson), they were both atrocious and offset each other.
In regard to Kevin Love, Steve Kerr designed his offensive game plan attacking Love any time he had a chance. Love’s defensive is simply bad. The Warriors scored 25 points attacking Love which was really the difference in the game. The other difference is that the Warriors held the Cavs to 26% shooting in the 4th quarter. With LaBron playing 45 minutes and Kyrie playing 44 minutes, the two of them simply ran out of gas. Therein lies the difference between the two teams. The Cavs are a two man show while the Warriors’ Strength in Numbers were in full display.
Let’s now analyze the last 2:30 of the game when the Cav’s took a 6 point lead at 113-107. KD and Steph took over the game offensively to outscore the Cav’s 11-0 for the remainder of the game. But it was the defensive play of the 5 Warriors on the court that shut down the Cavs. In addition, the Cav’s lack of basketball IQ showed up in a big way after KD hit his remarkable three pointer to give the Warriors a 114-113 lead with 45.3 seconds left in the game. This set up the Cavs for a perfect 2-for-1 opportunity to give them two offensive opportunities to the Warriors one. Instead, Kyrie dribbled the clock away and missed a three point shot with 26 seconds left in the game. Ty Lue, LeBron and Kyrie all should have known the circumstance, yet they squandered away a golden opportunity. Their lack of IQ doesn’t end there. After the Warriors got the rebound, they were able to run off another 13 seconds off the clock without the Cavs fouling them. With 13 seconds left in the game, KD drained 2 free throws to give them a 3 point lead. Then came the play of the game. While I was thinking that the Warriors should foul with about 5-6 seconds left in the game to prevent a three point shot to be made, LeBron got the inbounds pass and immediately went up for a three point shot. While he was going up, Iguodala with his lightening fast magical hands, swatted the ball away and the ball hit LeBron prior to going out of bounds…. Game over!!! While it was a great play by Andre, he was an inch away of fouling LeBron with the possibility of putting him on the line to tie the game. In the heat of the game, Andre relied on instinct and made the play that he is skilled at to win the game.
Lastly, let’s just marvel at some coincidences:
- The five guys on the court in the last 3 minutes of the game were all at the Hampton’s to recruit KD last July.
- Last year, Kyrie made the three pointer at the end of Game 7. This year, he missed the three point shot from approximately the same area of the court in Game 3.
- Last year, LeBron blocked Iguodala in game 7 at the end of the game. This year, Iguodala blocks Lebron at the end of Game 3.
- KD knocks down the go ahead three in front of LeBron. It was 5 years ago that LeBron and his Miami Heat beat KD’s OKC Thunder in the Finals.