Durant's 43 Points Lead Golden State to Game 3 Victory, Move One Game from NBA Title

By Michael Vesci
Jun. 07, 2018

On a night where Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went a combined 7-27 from the field, 3-15 from three-point range, and scored 21 points total the Warriors managed to take Game 3 of the NBA Finals from the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final of 110-102. For Golden State, their hero of the night was Kevin Durant who went 15-for-23 from the field and dropped 43 points to lead the team to victory. Despite a poor shooting night from the Splash Brothers, the Warriors used a balanced attack that saw all five starters reach double figures in points.

On the other end, it was another frustrating night for LeBron James and the Cavs. Despite jumping out to an early lead at home, they were unable to stay in control of the game but kept with the Warriors all the way. James finished the game with a triple-double scoring 33 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists. But his 13-for-28 shooting from the field was not enough to lead the way to a win in a crucial Game 3. One bright spot for the Cavs was Rodney Hood coming off the bench and dropping 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting while a struggling Jordan Clarkson did not play. It just simply was not enough for the Cavs to keep up on a night where Durant was red-hot when on the floor.

The Cavaliers did not waste any time taking control of this game early on. They started the game on a 16-4 run to take an early 12-point advantage over the Warriors and give themselves the early momentum. The offense was balanced between JR Smith, Kevin Love, and LeBron James who scored 14 of Cleveland's first 16 points via the three ball and points in the paint. But after taking control early, sloppy play to the tune of three turnovers by Cleveland resulted in seven Golden State points on the other end as the Warriors were able to pull within one as the first quarter came to a close. Leading the charge early in the game for the Warriors was none other than Kevin Durant who finished the quarter with 13 points, which was nearly half the points Golden State had in the first quarter of play.

However, the Cavs continued to play gritty ball and began the second on a 6-0 run led by Rodney Hood and LeBron James to take a seven-point lead over the Warriors. It seemed like for a majority of the first half that Cleveland was in control of this game as they were responding to every shot Golden State was making to try getting back in the game. With about four minutes remaining in the second, the Cavaliers had a 13-point lead after a Kevin Love three-pointer fell. But as the Warriors tried to chip away, six points in the final minute of the quarter by Kevin Durant helped get them within six heading into the halftime break and capped off a half in which he scored 24 points for Golden State. Meanwhile with Stephen Curry having just two points on 1-for-6 and Klay Thompson going 2-for-7 with five points, the Warriors were lucky to be as close as they were in the first half because of Durant's hot start.

But the Warriors went on the attack early in the third, a quarter in which they have been known for getting back into or pulling away from opponents during. With JaVale McGee and Durant leading the way, the Warriors quickly closed the six-point gap and tied the score at 61 a piece which forced the Cavs to call timeout. McGee has been sort of an unsung hero in the NBA Finals the last two games, he had 10 points and went 5-for-7 from the floor last night as he started in place of Andre Iguodala who came off the bench in his first action since the injury in the Western Conference Finals series versus the Houston Rockets. Despite playing under 20 minutes most of the playoffs, he has provided the Warriors with some stability down low in these Finals with the absence of Iguodala and helped his team score in the paint. Out of the timeout, Golden State continued to be relentless as they took a pair of five-point leads during the middle stages of the third quarter. Despite the blitzes by the Warriors, the Cavs hung tough and continued to fight back in this one. Even though it seemed at times Golden State was looking to pull away in the third, Cleveland stayed with them and headed into the fourth down just two.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, this was Kevin Durant's night and he was not going to let Cleveland take this one. The two teams traded buckets for a large part of the fourth in a game that saw 11 lead changes and nine ties throughout the course of it. Down one with three minutes remaining, Stephen Curry finally came alive to make a layup and his only three-pointer of the night to give the Warriors a 101-97 lead. But like the Cavaliers did all night, they fought back and LeBron James responded with a three of his own to bring the deficit down to one for the Cavs. After an Iguodala dunk and missed shot by Tristan Thompson, Durant sealed the deal on this one with a three-pointer to give him 43 points on the evening and the Warriors a six-point lead with 49.8 seconds left. Despite LeBron responding with a layup to bring the score within four, the Cavaliers would not get any closer and the Golden State Warriors took the 110-102 victory in Game 3.

The win brings the Warriors just one win away from their third NBA Championship in the last four years. They will have a chance to close it out with Game 4 on Friday at 9 PM EST in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena. As for the Cavs, they will look to avoid being swept by the Warriors. If they want to win the title, they will have to try and become the first team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs to win the series. Additionally, with the Cavaliers on the brink of losing their third NBA Finals in the last four years and LeBron James set to become a free agent this summer, many wonder if this could be the end of LeBron's return to Cleveland and he looks to pursue more championships elsewhere.

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