Cavs Fall Into Daunting 0-3 Hole after Game 3 Loss to Warriors

Hoping to overcome another 0-2 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a seemingly insurmountable task ahead.

Updated: June 7, 2018 • 12:52 AM ET

LeBron James is one loss away from his sixth Finals defeat.

CLEVELAND — Only four teams have rallied from an 0-2 series deficit in the NBA Finals, which includes the Cleveland Cavaliers’ historic comeback over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals. The Cavs and Warriors are in the midst of their fourth straight Finals clash, and after falling into another 0-2 hole this year, Cleveland is attempting to make history again.


That task seems nearly impossible after Cleveland lost Game 3 110-102 on Wednesday night in Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs are now in an 0-3 hole, a deficit no team has overcome in an NBA Finals.


“The margin for error is very low,” LeBron James said of facing Golden State. “It’s almost like playing the Patriots, you just can’t have mistakes. They’re not going to beat themselves.”


The Cavs put together an impressive opening five minutes of the game, racing out to a 16-4 lead. The Q was rocking, especially when James threw a pass off the backboard to himself and flushed it home for an emphatic dunk that put Cleveland up by eight early. Nevertheless, the lethal Warriors weren’t fazed by the spurt, as Golden State closed the first quarter with a 24-13 run to trail by a single point heading into the second quarter.


Every time the Cavs made a run on Wednesday night, the Warriors responded with a haymaker of their own. When Cavs power forward Kevin Love sank a three-pointer with about four minutes remaining until halftime, Cleveland had secured another double-digit lead, 50-37. But just like they responded to Cleveland’s run in the first quarter, the Warriors rallied in the final minutes of the half to trail just 58-52 at halftime.


“I thought we played a good first half,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “They’re going to make runs. That’s what this team does.


“To be up six at the half after being up 13 in that first half, but they’re going to make runs. We understand that.”


The game swung back-and-forth until the waning moments of the fourth quarter, when Golden State drained backbreaker after backbreaker. A Steph Curry triple put Golden State up 101-97 with 2:38 to play. After a James three-pointer brought Cleveland back within a point, Golden State responded with an Andre Iguodala dunk and a crushing Kevin Durant trey that put the Warriors up 106-100 with under a minute to play. Draymond Green’s uncontested dunk with 25 seconds to play sealed the game.


“You know, we’ve got a lot of depth,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play, and they’re all chipping in. But we should probably go back to Kevin Durant, shouldn’t we?


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


Durant finished with a playoff career-high 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, nullifying standout efforts from Love (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Rodney Hood (15 points, six rebounds) for the Cavaliers. Durant even overcame subpar performances from Curry (11 points) and Klay Thompson (10 points).


“I try not to think about just scoring,” Durant said. “But, you know, we struggled to shoot the ball early on, and I felt like I had some good looks. I started asking for more of them, and I was able to knock down some shots for us.”


James recorded his fourth triple-double of the postseason and 10th triple-double in the NBA Finals with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but the effort wasn’t enough to take Game 3. He even passed Michael Jordan (109) for the most 30-point games in NBA playoff history, but he’s facing a team that has several star players in uniform, the brightest of which on Wednesday was Durant.


“It’s definitely a tough loss and we had our chances, but we have another opportunity on Friday to win on our home floor,” James said.


The Cavs will attempt to keep their season alive in Game 4, but they’ve yet to find a way to solve the Warriors puzzle in the 2018 Finals. If they don’t figure out something quickly, the Warriors will once again be popping champagne in The Q’s visitors locker room.

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