The Golden State Warriors — undead zombies, unkillable foes, impossible opponents — won Game 3 in Cleveland on Wednesday. It took them finishing a classic game on an 11-0 run that wrecked Cleveland’s hopes to achieve a stunning 118-113 victory.
The ending might cause the game itself to be undersold, because it was everything we had hoped to see with the Cavaliers and the Warriors, the two best teams in the league, facing off against each other. Game 3 had everything.
Kyrie Irving’s layups kept going to the circus. LeBron James survived a hit that should have put him in bedrest. Those two combined for a convincing impersonation of last year’s Game 5. A Klay Thompson supernova game. Richard Jefferson’s elite old man strength. Patrick McCaw getting minutes. WOO RIC FLAIR. Rascal Flatts isn’t one person?! Weird Stephen Curry vs. Iman Shumpert beef for some reason. Kyle Korver taking charges. KYLE KORVER DUNKING.
It featured sensational shotmaking and a game that was close for 48 damn minutes. We’ve seen too many blowouts in the past two months. Now we know what the opposite of a boring blowout is. It’s this game.
Sometimes, the game felt like it was James and Irving against the world. After all, Golden State feels like an all-world team at times with four All-NBA-caliber players in their primes. Other times, it was a game marked by Cleveland’s role players showing up every time they needed to show up. They had to have that.
Behind all that — a quiet droning reminder in the back of all our heads — is that this is the Warriors. That Golden State damn well might be the best team we’ve ever seen. That you can take it to Stephen Curry & Co. for 47 minutes ... and they can still prevail in the 48th with shots like this.
And plays like this.
They did just that. It’s not fair. Not at all, and they did it all the same.
If this was Game 1, Cleveland could retreat to the locker room disappointed but with their heads still held high. We can play against this team, they’d tell each other. We had them on their heels. And they’d be right — they really, really did.
But it’s Game 3, and now Cleveland is down three games to none. They already became the first team ever to come back from down 3-1 to win in the Finals. They won’t top that now, not against this team, not with the way they’ve lost, no, no, no. It’s over.
In the end, Game 3 was everything neutrals wanted. For the entire game, the Cavaliers provided the fireworks. They hustled until their joints were bruised and their hips were throbbing and every loose ball that they could have was dived after or reached towards, no matter how unlikely they’d catch up to it. The Warriors had their moments, too, but they were rewarded by a roaring Cleveland crowd.
And yet, it didn’t matter for Cleveland. In the end, Goliath still won and this is a 3-0 series.
We wanted the underdog to win because we crave competition. We wanted the Cavaliers to hold on because it would make this series interesting for at least two more days. Instead, the only thing this game couldn’t provide was just that.
It’s proof that nothing is perfect. Except, for these playoffs, maybe the Warriors.