The 2015 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors has not shown itself as an outstanding display of efficiency. But man, has it been exciting.
Game 3 of the deadlocked series wasn’t much different than the previous two outings, with Cleveland taking a double-digit advantage at one point and putting Golden State on its collective heels. Then, just like in Games 1 and 2, the Warriors responded and tested the Cavs.
Cleveland ultimately emerged victorious, earning a 96-91 win and 2-1 series lead behind a 40-point, 12-rebound, eight-assist performance from LeBron James, who set a fancy new NBA Finals record.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 10, 2015
Matthew Dellavedova recorded 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, but his key contribution was on the defensive side. The scrappy, aggressive point guard disrupted Stephen Curry on the perimeter for a majority of the night.
Now, it’s important to note that the league MVP nailed six three-pointers during the second half, so Delly wasn’t necessary the lockdown defender several have tried to make him out to be. Yet that doesn’t diminish Dellavedova’s impact, especially since he provided the game-changing bucket.
Curry had just buried a triple, and Cleveland clung to a 81-80 advantage. But when the Warriors star fouled Dellavedova, he fumbled his way toward the rim, tossed up a shot and buried it. Delly hit the free throw to complete the and-one, and the Cavs didn’t look back.
Entering the fourth quarter, Golden State trailed 72-55. Curry had just 10 points, Draymond Green had managed just seven and Harrison Barnes was 0-of-8 from the field.
But Steve Kerr inserted the unlikeliest of heroes—someone who had logged a meager 12 minutes during the Warriors’ last six games. The rookie coach sent in two-time All-Star David Lee, who tallied 11 points, four boards and two assists.
David Lee, X-factor, might actually be happening.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 10, 2015
When Lee exited the court with 5:18 remaining in regulation, Golden State trailed just 79-76.
Nevertheless, Cleveland mustered enough offense down the stretch to outlast the Warriors. A key triple from James gave the Cavaliers a seven-point lead with 1:44 left and essentially sealed the outcome.
Curry finished the night with 27 points, but it was another rough night overall for the Western Conference champs.
Andre Iguodala added 15 points in the losing effort, while Klay Thompson chipped in 14. Barnes, Green and Andrew Bogut combined for 11 points and a putrid minus-37 rating.
Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday, June 11, at 9 p.m. ET. ABC will broadcast the pivotal matchup.
Photo: USA Today Sports