Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Too much Durant in 4th

Thursday, June 8, 2017


The Cleveland Cavaliers played a really good basketball game on Wednesday for 45 minutes and held a 113-107 lead with just 3:10 to play in the fourth quarter, seemingly in control and on their way to a win, pulling themselves to within one win of tying up their Finals series against the Golden State Warriors. But, unfortunately for the Cavs, there are 48 minutes in NBA games and J.R. Smith’s big 3-pointer that gave the Cavs their 113-107 lead was the last bucket the Cavs would have in the game, and the Warriors cruised to a 118-113 win in Cleveland for a 3-0 lead in the series.

 

Draymond Green appeared to pass up an open layup to hit Kevin Durant for a 3-pointer, but KD couldn’t get it to fall and the Cavs were still up six with less than three minutes to play. Stephen Curry stopped Cleveland’s train with a layup to cut the Cavs’ lead to 113-109 with 2:14 remaining. Kyrie Irving then missed an acrobatic layup, but got an incredible rebound, but that possession ended with a missed fadeaway from LeBron James.  KD then hit an easy, short fadeaway on an inbounds play to cut the Cavs’ lead to 113-111 with 1:15 left. The Cavs then had the ball and were up two, but Kyle Korver missed an open 3-pointer, which Durant then turned into a huge 3-pointer on the other end for a 114-113 lead with 40 seconds left. And it was ‘game over.’

 

Kyrie missed a 3-pointer, KD hit two more free throws and to finish off the Cavs, Andre Iguodala had a great block on LeBron’s 3-point attempt, which found LeBron standing out of bounds with the ball in his hands. Steph Curry finished things off with a couple more free throws and the Warriors are now looking to finish the playoffs with an undefeated 16-0 record. They’re currently 15-0 in these playoffs, giving them the record for the longest playoff-winning streak in major sports history.

 

Golden State went on an 11-0 run over the last three minutes and Durant had 14 of his 31 points in fourth quarter. GSW hit a Finals-record 12 3-pointers in the first half and Klay Thompson scored 30 points for his first 30-point playoff game since Game 5 of the 2016 Finals. Durant hit 10-of-18 shots and four 3-pointers with eight rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block to go along with his 31 points, Thompson hit 11-of-18 shots and six triples on his way to his 30 points, Curry added 26 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and five 3-pointers, while Draymond Green also chipped in with eight points, eight rebounds, seven dimes, a steal and a block. Iguodala, in addition to his big block, finished with seven points, five boards, five assists, four steals and a 3-pointer in 30 minutes off the bench.

 

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The Cavs got monster games from LeBron and Kyrie, as James finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, and Irving had 38 points, six boards and three assists. Irving hit 16-of-29 shots, but was 0-for-7 from downtown, and Kevin Love added just nine points in the loss. Love did have 13 rebounds, six steals and a 3-pointer, but hit just 1-of-9 shots, which is probably why the Cavs lost. J.R. Smith finally came through with 16 points and five 3-pointers, but Tristan Thompson failed to score and grabbed just three rebounds (and two blocks) in his 23 minutes. Kyle Korver hit a huge 3-pointer that put the Cavs ahead in the third quarter, but finished just 3-of-7 from the floor for eight points and not much else. Again, the Cavs are getting output from just three or four guys, while the Warriors are getting production across the board. And Cleveland settled for way too many 3-pointers when they were in control of the game. If they had a do-over, they’d surely drive to the rack and try to get some layups and free throws, instead of just chucking threes.

 

I honestly don’t know how the Cavs will overcome this gut punch in Game 4 in Cleveland on Saturday night and if I were in Vegas and rich, my money would be on the Warriors, regardless of the spread. The Warriors are still ticked off about last year’s Finals meltdown and there’s no way they’re going to let the Cavs get back into this series. And even if they somehow lose on Saturday night, the series surely won’t go farther than Monday’s Game 5, in Oakland. The Warriors added Durant to ensure a championship and with a 3-0 lead, you can go ahead and start planning for the victory parade next week. While these Finals, and playoffs, have not been the most exciting television we’ve ever watched, the Warriors are displaying near perfection on both ends of the court, and will be a force for as long as KD and Curry stay together, not to mention Green and Thompson.

 

The NBA Draft is taking place on Thursday, June 22. The Rotoworld crew will be all-hands-on-deck that night and will blurb each pick as it happens, just like we have for the last 20 years. Additionally, we’re already in the midst of an early mock fantasy draft, and those results should be available prior to the real NBA Draft. I took Nikola Jokic with the No. 9 pick and then backed him up with Chris Paul in Round 2. So be on the lookout for that column from Mike Gallagher in the near future. We’ll see you on Saturday night for Game 4 in Cleveland!



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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