Golden State Warriors

Cavs show Warriors no Love, win Game 3 by 30


Steve Kerr said the Warriors, who had lost four straight Game 3s dating back to last year’s NBA Finals, would come out with an edge in Wednesday night’s game in Cleveland. Sludge was more like it.

The Cavaliers were desperate to keep their season going, and they pounced on the Warriors with dominant first and third quarters in another blowout, this time 120-90 in Cleveland’s favor. Golden State had a game they could piss away in Cleveland, but they probably didn’t expect LeBron James and his teammates to mark their territory in such brutal fashion from the opening tip.

Mr. Curry? Paging Stephen Curry …

Curry’s struggles in the NBA Finals are going to be considered a “thing” until he figures out a way to put together one of his flurries ASAP. Forget his final line — 19 points, 3 assists, 6 turnovers — except for the final number listed, perhaps. It’s hard to comprehend just how bad Curry was in the first half. He got into foul trouble like in Game 2, without the benefit of some nifty 3-pointers early on to make it seem like the Warriors were missing him. He dribbled into traps and threw desperation passes with a knuckleballer’s velocity, and the results almost always looked the same: Cavs in transition, easy score on deck.

Kerr tried to bench some sense into Curry, and he finally started hitting some threes and contested layups in the second half, but by then it was far too late. With the Cavs actually guarding Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson’s cold start followed by a charlie-horse sustained when Thompson’s thigh ran directly into Timofey Mozgov’s knee, the Warriors needed Curry to play a complete game. Instead, he was completely off.

Let’s put it another way: when the Warriors’ best player is Harrison Barnes, against a good team, on the road, this is the result we should always expect.

Cavs shed their anchor, zoom past Warriors

Kevin Love was held out of this game after sustaining a concussion in Game 2, and I went on CSN’s SportsTalk Live show at 5:30 pm and made an incorrect prediction (as per usual). Jim Kozimor asked if Love’s absence would help the Warriors, and I said it would. With Tyronn Lue starting Richard Jefferson instead of going big, I figured their plan was to beat the Warriors with offense, and Love is their third-best offensive option. It’s not like Love has been great, but who’s going to score for Cleveland?

Well, the Cavs looked like the Warriors offensively, only with their best player weighing about 65 pounds more and throwing down some of the best in-game dunks we’ll see.

Unless Lue wants to get slammed by every basketball brain from San Francisco to Boston, he’s got to keep Love on the bench in Game 4 (if he’s available to play, that is).

Kerr bristles at lineup question

The Warriors head coach was asked whether he’d consider changing his starting lineup. It was the first question he faced after the game.

“Wow. We just lost one game,” Kerr said.

“I’m sorry,” said the reporter.

“Change the starting lineup? We weren’t ready to play. Obviously they just punched us right in the mouth right in the beginning. We’re turning the ball over like crazy. Soft, we were extremely soft to start the game, and then they set the tone with their intensity. I think it was 9-0, and we had to call timeout. Steph got beat back door, couple turnovers. Just a horrible way to start, but even then we fought back in. We were down 8 at the half right there. But it’s going to take more than an effort like that to win a Finals game against a great team, obviously.”

In other words, Kerr isn’t going to replace Andrew Bogut with Andre Iguodala until he absolutely has to. Death Lineup duties are more taxing for Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala, and despite how bad they looked tonight, the Warriors are still in an excellent position to win this series.

If they lose Game 4? That’s when you’ll see the Death Lineup at the opening tip.

Dub Steps

— This was the perfect recipe for a loss. Early in the game they couldn’t make threes or free throws, and failures in both categories tend to deflate this team. An assist-to-turnover ratio of 21-18 is pretty awful — even worse when the Warriors’ overall defensive effort is subpar. Cleveland out-rebounded Golden State 53-32 and grabbed 17 offensive boards. Tristan Thompson had 7 offensive rebounds on his own, while the Warriors only had 8 as a team. The Cavs had 23 second chance points. The Warriors had 3.

— Oh, and J.R. Smith made more 3-pointers than Curry and Thompson combined.

— Kyrie Irving set the tone in the first quarter with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 3 assists, no turnovers, and far superior defensive work than anything we saw from him in Games 1 and 2.

— Meanwhile, just to continue giving credit where it’s due, James played his best overall game against the Warriors in two years. Other than the 5 turnovers, he was close to perfect. He even made over 50% of his shots, something he had never done before in the Finals as a Cleveland Cavalier. Like Irving, James played inspired defense that was about 10 levels above what we saw in the series’ first two games. He and Irving bothered Curry quite a bit, and there was no way James was going to allow Green to beat them the way he did from outside in Game 2.

— A rare complaint from Thompson, who to my recollection has never said anything like this publicly.

— I didn’t think “Oh, Mozgov totally meant to hurt Thompson” after I saw the screen. However, the Warriors are probably on the lookout for questionable tactics from Mozgov after what he did when these teams played each other in Cleveland back in February.

— Kerr on Love’s absence:

“I think the game would have been the same whether he played or not. This was about one team being emotionally fired up and angry about being down 2-0, and another team being comfortable. So I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I think it was just the level of intensity that they brought. They would have brought it with Kevin, too. So I don’t think it made a difference.”

— Funniest postgame comment of the night:

— I’m flying to Cleveland tomorrow to watch a basketball game that starts at 9 pm on Friday. I have this feeling that the game will be close, despite no evidence to support this feeling. This was the 20th game decided by 25+ points in these playoffs, and the average margin of victory is 26 in this series. But we’ll probably get a similarly strong effort from Cleveland, matched by a far less craptacular performance from Golden State. I’m absolutely certain of this.

/Thinks back to Game 4 against OKC

//Thinks about all of those made jumpers by James in Game 3

///Realizes the Cleveland radio hosts I made fun of will be able to see where I’m sitting at the Q

////Checks Delta’s refund policy

(Just kidding, I’ll be there. I should’ve known the Warriors would lay an egg tonight, seeing as they suck in almost every Game 3 and Green said before the game that their goal was to come away with one win on the road. That’s something you usually say after you get a road split, not before you play a game. Will we see the Grim Reaper lineup to start the game? I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.)

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