LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both went to another gear when the Cavaliers needed them most. They combined for 77 points, the most points by a duo in an NBA Finals loss. And it still wasn’t enough to knock off the Warriors in Game 3.
James’ first quarter was a sign of things to come. He shot 7-of-8 from the field, as well as 2-of-3 from deep. It just looked like he was never going to miss during a quarter that was as fast-paced as a NASCAR race. His 16 points were tied for the most in the quarter with Klay Thompson, who finally found his shot in Game 3.
Even when James got popped by Tristan Thompson on accident, he stayed in the game, and then threw down a vicious dunk. It sent a message that the Cavaliers were going to punch harder than they had all series — which they did.
James had 27 points to finish off the first half where he could do no wrong, even when he threw bad passes. Irving pitched in 17 points in the half, though he would really have everybody gasping in the third quarter by showing off his unreal ability to finish at the rim.
The third quarter was the best the Cavaliers played all series, outscoring the Warriors 33-22. Irving was the main reason for that because of plays like this that almost certainly nobody else on the planet could make.
James and Irving combined for 13 points in the fourth. Unfortunately, that’s when the difference between last year’s Warriors team and this year’s team — Kevin Durant — showed up.
Durant had 14 points in the quarter, as well as knocking down the go-ahead basket. He then followed that with a pair of free throws to extend the lead. Just when the Cavaliers thought they had the Warriors, Kevin Durant happened.
James and Irving combined for 62 points in last year’s Game 3 of the Finals, and topped that with 77 this year. We knew it was going to take another gear to challenge the Warriors, and that’s what the duo provided.
Despite James and Irving putting up a top-five all-time great performance in NBA Finals history, it still wasn’t enough to beat the Warriors.
If that won’t, nothing will.