The Cleveland Cavaliers were unable to hold off Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, falling to 0-3 in the NBA Finals. With the series all but over, here are some things we learned.
1. The Warriors just have too many players that can bail them out.
If I told you heading into Game 3 that Rodney Hood would outplay Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and every other guard in the game you’d probably feel good.
But even with their long-range duo struggling, the Warriors can fall back on one of the greatest scorers in league history. Kevin Durant was absurd in Game 3, hitting countless contested shots, and filling the boxscore with assists and rebounds.
The Cavs had their chances, but every time it looked like they might break through Durant was there to shut the door. If it’s any consolation, it looks like in addition to going 3-16 in Game 3, Curry appears to be on track to go 0-4 on Finals MVPs.
2. The Hood place.
Welcome to the Cavaliers, Rodney Hood. The shooting guard looked shaky when he first checked into the game, blowing defensive assignments and just floating around in the first quarter.
But as the game progressed, Hood turned his performance around and played with assertiveness and confidence. While his efforts were ultimately for nothing, seeing him overcome his demons was an encouraging step.
Rodney Hood is the most talented shooting guard the Cavs have, and was having a really good season prior to coming to Cleveland. He may have tanked his value, but retaining him (for the right price) and seeing if he can turn things around with a training camp and a defined role is probably worthwhile.
3. Even with the talent disparity, the Cavs should feel like they blew this opportunity.
There is no denying the talent disparity between the Warriors and Cavaliers. The Warriors have assembled a team with the most top-end talent the league has ever seen. But even with that, the Cavs have had their chances to make this a series.
In Games 1 and 3, and to a lesser extent Game 2, the Cavs have had chances to extend this series. Yes they haven’t got many breaks along the way, but they had enough openings to get one or more games to this point.
Just like the Houston Rockets leading by double digits in two potential closeout games, the Cavaliers have found a way to beat themselves. Missed layups, mental gaffes, and poor decisions have doomed the Cavs in this series. This isn’t the invincible Warriors from a year ago, the chemistry and focus just isn’t at the same level.
The talent disparity comes into play when you look at the respective margins for error for both teams. It doesn’t help when LeBron James has a bloody eye and a twisted ankle either. But this series doesn’t have the desperate sense of “well, what can you do.” Rather, this series’ lasting memory will likely be “what could have been.”