Every quarter is its own story. In the third quarter, the Cavaliers dominated the Warriors the entire way through, outscoring their opponents 28-18, and at one moment in the game leading by 20 points. But in the beginning of the fourth, the Cavaliers were about to let the game slip away, turning the ball over left and right. At the end of the game, the Cavaliers squeaked by 96-91. The Cavs never trailed the entire game.
Quicken Loans Arena packed in 20,562 fans in order to try to see their team get its first home win in franchise history. The city of Cleveland earned its first Finals win Sunday night when the Cavaliers beat the Warriors on the road in Game 2. LeBron continued his incredible run, scoring 40 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and dishing eight assists. He was a machine.
Right out of the gate, the Cavaliers played strong in the third, lead by James’ 13 points. As strong as he played offensively, his defensive stats proved just as worthy, getting four steals with two blocks to add to a loaded stat line. LeBron became a matchup nightmare for Andre Iguodala who struggled to keep up with LeBron.
On the Warriors side, they struggled to match with the Cavaliers physicality most of the game. The Warriors tried to free Stephen Curry by continually setting screens on his man, but Curry could not find his range until the fourth quarter when it was just too late. Despite scoring 27 points, 17 of those came in the fourth quarter. A glaring statistic came from starting small forward Harrison Barnes who shot 0-8 and did not score a point. On the other hand, Iguodala continued to play big off the bench, scoring 15 points and getting 5 rebounds and assists.
Matthew Dellavedova’s stock continues to soar with each minute he plays. Delly scored 20 points, a playoff career high, and his tenacious defense continues to frustrate the Warriors. On top of that, Dellavedova fought for every loose ball and every rebound which has continued to get under the skin of the Warriors on both sides of the court.
The key facet of this game is mental toughness. The Warriors have only once been challenged mentally, and that was by the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Grizzlies did not play as well as the Cavaliers have against the Warriors, but play that same scrappy-intense style. The Warriors were able to win that series in seven games, based on their breathtaking three-point shooting, which has been nonexistent throughout most of the last two games. The demeanor of the Warriors showed that they looked defeated and out-manned. Even as the Warriors made a comeback in the fourth, they lacked the confidence to pull it all together. This has kept the Warriors from being as physical offensively and forces them to take more attempts from 30-feet away.
One thing the Warriors should be happy about is the contribution they got from backup power forward David Lee. Lee has barely gotten any playing time this series. Lee scored 11 points in 13 minutes and played big minutes in the fourth quarter. His +/- was at an astounding +17, one of only three players with a positive plus-minus stat for Golden State. He brought a rebounding toughness with a strong post presence. This could prove to be a kryptonite for the Cavs moving forward because if Lee establishes himself in Game 4, Klay Thompson and Curry will be freed up more on the perimeter.
Stat of the Game
The bottom line is LeBron James is making a strong case to be considered in the top two of all time. King James is averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game, stats that put him in the same breath as Michael Jordan. James might not have the undefeated finals record Jordan has, but what he is doing with this Cavalier team in the Finals without two of their three best players is something Jordan was never asked to do this deep in June.
Player of the Game
The NBA Finals always seems to bring out a lesser known hero who gives 110 percent to grind his team to a huge victory, or multiple ones. For the second game in a row, the aggressive Australian Matthew Dellavedova proves to be the deciding factor for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Replacing Kyrie Irving is no easy task, but Dellavedova is taking the spot and rolling with it.
Playing 39 minutes and scoring 20 points in game 3. The 6’4 shooting guard was jumping, diving, and clawing for every loose ball in the game, earning respect from his teammates and the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. Dellavedova had a pivotal play with 2:27 left in the 4th quarter when he drew a foul on league MVP, Steph Curry, and made the basket increasing the Cavaliers to four after the ensuing free throw was made.
“He’s gotta be made of steel or something. If there’s a ball on the ground, he’s going to be the first one to the ground. … He gives us that grit, that grit that we need,” LeBron James said after the game.
Social Media Posts of the Game
It’s clear to see that Dellavedova has taken over the world of social media after his performance on both sides of the ball in Game 3. Fans, players, and members of the media were all tweeting about the play of Dellavedova, or as he is known on Twitter, Delly. Let’s see if he can hold on to the hearts of social media and his teammates in the games to follow.
The series will continue with Game 4 in Cleveland this Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC. The Cavaliers look to take a 3-1 lead and make one step closer to bringing a championship to the more than deserving fans of Cleveland.