THE NBA FINALS GAME 3 RE-CAP

Think about it: In the past three years of NBA Finals play, the Golden State Warriors have owned 3-1, 3-0 and (again) 3-0 series leads against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Okay, so everyone remembers the "Dubs" blew it back in 2016 as the Cavs stormed back to win Games 5, 6 and 7 in that set and then last year G-State stubbed its toe in Game 4 while searching out a sweep and thus needed a Game 5 to wrap up the series in Oakland.

Now, we'll see if this here-and-now Golden State club can "finish the job" in four straight come Friday night after knocking off the 3.5-point home underdog Cavaliers 110-102 on Wednesday night in Ohio ... we sure know what team played for keeps at the end of Game 3 and what player threw his hat into the proverbial ring to cop another NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

Sure 'nuff, Kevin Durant - who scored 43 points on only 23 field-goal attempts and hit the dagger triple with 49.8 seconds left in the game - now has the inside track on a second straight Finals MVP but there's lot more to examine when it came to this Golden State road conquest.

 

NBA FINALS
GOLDEN STATE 110, CLEVELAND 102 - Warriors lead series 3-0; Game 4 is Friday at 9 p.m. ET, ABC

Okay, so here's what we have been dying to say ever since the buzzer sounded on Golden State's win/cover in Game 3 ... truth is, there isn't nearly as much as one might think that separates the soon-to-be repeat champion Warriors and this down-and-nearly-out Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs spurted out to some double-digit leads in the first half of Game 3, managed to hold a 58-52 halftime advantage (more on that in a bit) and actually flip-flopped the leads with Golden State inside the final few minutes of play but Durant's deadly jumpers and the constant Cleveland breakdowns on defense - more uncontested/easy hoops then you could count! - allowed Steve Kerr's team to put an absolute stranglehold on this series but consider that Game 1 and Game 3 could have "gone either way" and Cavs' fans can be forgiven for thinking this championship round might have a different feel to it with a break or two along the way.

Let's join the choir in saying Durant's late first-half points was a Cavs' killer as they cut an 11-point lead in half but here's what we take issue with concerning Golden State's latest win/the Cavaliers' latest loss:

Why did Cleveland's LeBron James (33 points / 10 rebounds / 11 assists) not become more forceful on the offensive end throughout the game and especially late in the final frame ... and why didn't Cleveland head coach Ty Lue "double" Durant? Wow, on a night when the so-called "Splash Brothers" of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were combining to shoot 7-of-27 from the floor (including 3-of-15 from downtown) for the Warriors, Lue surely had the opportunities to get another hand in Durant's face or another body to get in his path. Bad job, Mr. Lue.

Here's the 2018 NBA Finals head-to-head matchups so far between the Warriors and the Cavaliers (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
5-31GOLDEN ST- 13Cleveland124-114 (ot)
6-3GOLDEN ST- 11.5Cleveland122-103
6-6Golden St- 3.5CLEVELAND110-102


NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru games of June 6) Here's the pointspread breakdown this post-season for the Cavaliers and the Warriors:

TEAMW L PCT
Golden St.118.550
Cleveland912.429