What We Learned: NBA Finals Game Three

The Cavs defended their home court and picked up the win in Game 3, 96-91. Cleveland had a 20 point lead in the second half, but the Warriors cut the lead to just one. As in every game this series, the Warriors erased a 4th quarter deficit, but they couldn’t complete the comeback. Here’s what we learned.

The Cavs have the best fans in the NBA. We’ve heard a lot about how the Warriors have the best fans in basketball, but Tuesday night the rest of the country figured out what we already knew: Cleveland has the best fans in the world and in the NBA.

Mike Miller and James Jones are willing to do whatever it takes for a championship. Both journeyman players know what it takes to win a championship. Even though neither player, especially Miller, played as much as he would like, each player can and does contribute the little things that help the Cavs win. Both players had big defensive plays. Miller even showed that he was willing to get on the floor and fight for a loose ball. Those guys have set the tempo for the rest of the team. You couldn’t ask more from your veteran leadership.

Iman Shumpert isn’t the best in-bounder in the world. He had a perfect pass to Steph Curry in the closing moments of the 4th quarter. Fortunately for Shumpert, Curry didn’t make the shot. You can’t afford to turn the ball over like that.

LeBron has the most points in the first three games of Finals history. James has 123 points in three games.

Iman Shumpert has the heart of a champion. I didn’t think we’d see Shumpert anymore in Game 3 after hurting his left shoulder/arm in the first quarter of the game. I should’ve known that you can’t count Shumpert out for any reason. He battled through the pain and came back to give his team a lift.

The Cavs can win when they lose the rebounding battle. Golden State grabbed three more rebounds than Cleveland in Game 3.

You can’t hold Curry down forever. Even though Curry had an awful first half, he found a way to bring his team back into the game. The reigning MVP finished with 27 points. He seemed to find a rhythm for the first time since Game 1. We’ll see how he starts Game 4. Curry hasn’t gotten much help in the last two games. I believe the Warriors need a Curry 30-plus point night to win Game 4.

David Lee could be Golden State’s secret weapon. Lee came off the bench and provided 11 points on 4 of 4 shooting in crunch time. Cleveland didn’t look prepared to face the former All-Star. We’ll see how the Cavs adjust in Game 4. I believe Lee will get significantly more minutes in Game 4.

LeBron or Delly can score or assist on 78 of the 96 points. Who could have predicted that we’d see Delly being LeBron’s sidekick when the playoffs started?

Matthew Dellavedova isn’t an unlikely hero anymore. It’s time to get away from the notion that Delly can’t perform on this stage. He’s shown us throughout the playoffs that no moment is too big for him. The Australian made his presence felt on both ends of the floor in Game 3. Delly finished with 20 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. His biggest influence of the game can’t be put on a stat sheet. Dellavedova gave it all; he got in on absolutely every play and came up with multiple loose balls that secured the victory. He once again did an excellent job of containing Curry the best he could. You can’t hold Curry down forever, but he did it for three and a half quarters. An indication of how hard Delly played is the fact that he was hospitalized after the game for massive cramping.

The Cavs want it more. This team is playing like their lives are on the line. That’s one of the reason they have the 2-1 lead right now.

You have to play a solid 48 minutes to win this game. You can’t count this Golden State team out. As in the previous two games, the Warriors came back from a fourth quarter deficit. You can’t let this team get going. They’ve shown us how deadly they are.

LeBron James is having a Finals for the ages. You can’t say enough about James. Unlike any of his previous Finals runs, he’s accepting the sole responsibility of this team’s success and he’s answering the bell. LBJ finished with an unreal 40 points, 8 assists, 12 boards, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. We all know he hates shooting this much, but that doesn’t matter at this point. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. That’s why this team is in the position it’s in right now. There really aren’t words to describe what he’s doing right now. If he finds a way to win this championship with all the adversity they’ve gone through, it will truly be one of the most impressive feats in NBA history. That being said, there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played. Let’s see how the King finishes this story.

Player of the Game: LeBron James (40/8/12)

The Cavs are two games away from breaking The Curse. They’ll look to take a 3-1 lead on Thursday night.

Jackson Flickinger

pic credit Cleveland.com

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