The Golden State Warriors broke a city's collective heart on Wednesday night, holding off the Cleveland Cavaliers for a Game 3 win and effectively ending the 2017 NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant was the man who slayed Cleveland, draining a dagger 3-pointer with less than a minute left, just when it looked like the Cavaliers had figured out how to topple the Warriors. KD finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and his very first Larry O'Brien trophy to go along with NBA Finals MVP.
OK, you're right. Durant won't get his hands on the hardware until the Dubs actually finish off this series — which will come Friday, when Golden State wins Game 4 to sweep the Cavaliers.
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I know what you're thinking. After last year's 3-1 comeback, why would anyone dare write off LeBron James & Co. before the Cavs lose four games in the Finals?
Sorry, friends, but that's wishful thinking. This year is nothing like 2016 — nothing.
Start with the obvious: the 73-win Warriors didn't have that Kevin Durant guy. Adding a former MVP who's roughly 80 feet tall and made of thermonuclear devastation sort of changes the equation from one year to the next, especially since Golden State resolved any potential "alpha dog" conflict between Durant and Stephen Curry within the first three months of the season.
There was no feeling out period like LeBron had with Dwyane Wade in Miami, because Durant and Curry are perfect complements to one another. That's what makes them so devastating — and why they'll complete the job at hand on Friday.
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And Golden State is hungry — for revenge, in the case of those who suffered last year's ultimate embarrassment, for the chance to make history as the first team to go 16-0 in the playoffs, and for that first taste of championship glory for guys like Durant, David West and JaVale McGee.
Cleveland's hungry, sure, but it's the kind of hunger you feel when you skip lunch and have to wait for a late dinner. You'll survive if you don't eat.
There's no comparison to 2016, when LeBron was trying to bring a title home for the first time while silencing his ever-present critics.
Good to hear from you all after The King went scoreless for the final four minutes of Game 3, by the way, LeBron haters.
Anyway, I'm not one to play the "one team wanted it more" card and think that's the difference in a series, per se. The Cavaliers had plenty of motivation to try to "Defend the Land" when this series started. They still rallied down 2-0 on Wednesday.
If Kyrie Irving hits a 3, or if Durant's shot rattles out, or if LeBron steps up to defend that KD 3, we're talking about how the defending champions responded with their back against the wall.
Down 3-0 and with a ring in the jewelry case, though, human nature dictates the Cavs roll over on Friday.
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Could you blame them?
Stephen Curry is unquestionably healthy, McGee's impact is astonishing and Golden State's defense is downright ridiculous after years of developing chemistry together (plus Durant both fitting right in and becoming one of the best rim-protectors in the NBA, because why not?).
Durant looks like the best player on the planet — he's not, but joining a 73-win team has a funny way of bringing out your peak performance — and the Warriors have every reason to finish off the Cavaliers with a sweep.
This one is over. You know it. I know it. LeBron knows it. The Cavs know it.
So mark it down: the Dubs, who are six-point favorites for Game 4 according to OddsShark.com, will celebrate a championship in Cleveland on Friday.
Warriors by 30 — but if they don't finish off the Cavs, then Cleveland in seven, because the only thing better than a "Warriors blew a 3-1 Finals lead" joke is a "Warriors blew a 3-0 Finals lead" joke.