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Kevin Durant solved every problem for the Warriors

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Despite another phenomenal performance from LeBron James, the Warriors got the sweep. Thank KD.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — If the first two games of the Finals were full of free-flowing, dynamic offense, Game 3 was built for isolation scoring. That the Warriors have the best shooter in the league to thrive in the first scenario, as well as the best shotmaker in the game for the second, means that they are basically unfair.

Fair is a loaded word for the Warriors. Everything they did to acquire Kevin Durant was completely fair, just as choosing to align himself with the Dubs was perfectly within KD’s rights as a free agent. That the team they’ve assembled is unfair is not their problem. It’s everyone else’s.

“You guys asked me this last year, what was the difference between the Warriors the previous year and this year, and what was my answer?” LeBron James asked the press. “All right. There it is. Kevin Durant was my answer. He’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played against that this league has ever seen. His ability to handle the ball, shoot the ball, make plays at his length, his size, his speed. So there it is.”

There it is.

After taking Game 3, 110-102, and Game 4, 108-85, the Warriors have completed a sweep and claimed their second straight championship. Since adding Durant, they’ve won eight of the last nine Finals matchups between the two teams, turning the best rivalry of this generation into a one-sided rout.

So, no. It’s not fair. It’s remarkable. The Warriors present an impossible series of problems, and each solution carries the risk that they’ll just produce an answer that’s even better.

“I mean, it’s almost like playing the Patriots, you can’t have mistakes,” said James, who finished with a 33-11-10 in Game 3. “They’re not going to beat themselves. You can’t have miscommunication, you can’t have flaws, you can’t have ‘my faults’ or ‘my bads’ or things like that, because they’re going to make you pay. The room for error, you just can’t have it.”

The Cavs have no margin for error, and even if they did, their defense simply isn’t up to the challenge. After two games of getting burned to a crisp by Steph Curry, the Cavs tried to cut off the flow and turn this into a half-court contest. On that they succeeded in Game 3, as Curry struggled with his shot, making only one three-pointer. Of course, it was the biggest three of the night. That was one problem.

“When Steph came down and took that three, no conscience, no matter how many shots he missed,” Durant said. “That’s what I love about him.”

The other problem was that Cleveland’s strategy played right into Durant’s hands. He had turnaround jumpers over smaller defenders and long threes against lunging defenders. He scored off the dribble and shot in rhythm. He got to the free throw line early when nothing else was working, and converted absurdly tough shots whenever Cleveland made a run.

“That was amazing what he did out there tonight,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Some of those shots, I don’t think anybody in the world can hit those but him. He was incredible.”

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the first half, Durant was the only thing keeping the Warriors in the game. In the second half, KD poured it on, finishing his 43-point masterpiece with a 30-footer right in the heart of Cleveland. Just like he did last year under similar circumstances.

“It’s a different game, different season,” Durant said. “I mean, different feel. Just a different vibe around the team, around just — everything’s just different.”

Different, but eerily similar. Durant didn’t hit a game-winner down two like he did last season. He was also a few feet further out from last year’s iconic shot. Semantics aside, what Durant did in Game 3 was exactly the same as he did last season. When the Warriors’ offense broke down on the road and shots weren’t falling, they turned to Durant.

“I mean, that’s what he does,” James said. “He’s a scorer. You know, he’s an assassin, and that was one of those assassin plays right there.”

Durant scored 43 points on 15-for-23 shooting. He was 6-for-9 from three-point range and 7-for-7 at the free-throw line. He also had 13 rebounds and seven assists. The other four Golden State starters scored 41 points and shot 16-for-42 from the floor and 3-for-17 from behind the arc.

“Well, this is the beauty of this team and the luxury that we have of having multiple big-time scorers,” Kerr said. “Yeah, it’s pretty nice, a pretty nice luxury as a coach, that’s for sure.”

No dummy, Kerr flipped the scheme around last night and had Curry screen for Durant to initiate offense. And the Warriors rallied around KD. The next game, they did the reverse, with Steph scoring 37 and KD fading into the background, but asserting himself enough to win Finals MVP.

That’s what makes this team so dangerous. They can turn on a dime and do so willingly. While Durant’s reaction to his shotmaking was stoic, his teammates were jubilant.

“I mean, I just love that support from my teammates, and I think we all just support each other in a real — with a real childlike approach to the game,” Durant said. “That’s rare in the NBA because we’re all professionals. We’re all grown men. I think everybody gets excited for the small parts of the game, and Steph is one of those guys that just brings that joy. That’s what the Warriors are all about, is just us having some fun out there, but also being, you know, poised and all those good words.”

So many words you can use to describe these Warriors. They seem immune to all of them, and why not? They’ve heard them all and they’ve got another championship in their sights. Words don’t matter when you’re collecting rings. Call them whatever you will, you still have to stop them. Good luck with that.