The Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals a season ago. This year, it would have to be comeback from 3-0. Despite a game in which Kyrie Irving and LeBron James were sublime, scoring all over the court, the Cavaliers could not notch the victory. The Golden State Warriors won 118-113, and now stand one win away from their second NBA championship in three years.
The difference: three point shooting variance, and Kevin Durant.
There’s evidence that on a game to game basis three point shooting varies so widely that you can’t really judge a team’s defense by how well the other team shoots from beyond the arc. In line with this thinking, the real way to judge a team’s defense is by how well they do discouraging the attempting of those threes. On this night, the Cavaliers attempted 44 threes, making just 12 of them. 27%. The Warriors attempted 33 of them, making 16. 49%.
Under a minute left, with the Cavs desperately trying to hold onto a lead, Kyle Korver had a wide open three in the corner. He missed it. Kevin Durant, who in all likelihood will be the Finals MVP on Friday night, came down the other way and nailed a pullup three pointer of his own. An MVP making an MVP-type shot.
This one stings a bit because LeBron James continued his insane play. The Cavs as a team played with incredible energy. If Kevin Love isn’t hurt with two minutes left in the game, maybe they are able to hang on and win. Instead, the Warriors finished an 11-0 run. Kyrie Irving hadn’t been great in Games 1 and 2, but played like a superstar tonight.
Against this Warriors team, when they shoot like this, it still isn’t enough. The Warriors might be the greatest team of all time. Tonight the Cavs reminded us that they are a damn good team too. What it matters, I don’t know.