Another close game, another overtime. The Cleveland Cavaliers walk out victorious, despite LeBron James missing more shots than anyone else in NBA Finals history. Stephen Curry? He didn’t help the Golden State Warriors by missing more three-pointers than anyone ever has.
LeBron James scored 39 points, finished with a triple double (16 rebounds, 11 assists) and is now averaging 41.5 points in this series while playing an incredible 96 out of 106 minutes. But he’s also shooting just 39.7% from the field, his numbers taking a huge hit after his 11-of-35 performance in game 2, missing 24 shots, a new record for an NBA Finals game.
But James did get some terrible treatment from the referees late in the game. At least two of his drives to the basket that were stopped or he missed on should have been called fouls. It seems the awful refereeing crew decided on splitting the bad calls during the game, helping the Cavaliers early on and going in the complete opposite direction late in the game. They did call that foul in favor of Matthew Dellavedova, which was surprising considering their inclination to ignore any physical contact by a Warriors player in the paint.
With Stephen Curry having his worst performance of the postseason, the Warriors needed the help. Curry did score 19 points, but finished with 5-of-23 from the field and an awful 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. No one has missed so many 3-point shots in a finals game, not even John Starks. While Curry was obviously having a bad day, ruining the Warriors’ final two possessions with an air-ball and a turnover on the final play, it had a lot to do with Dellavedova.
The most unlikely hero you can think of was on fire in this game. Not offensively, shooting 30% from the field and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. But the Cavaliers were a +15 with him on the floor, and besides his offensive rebound that won the game (making two shots from the line), there was also his defense on Curry. When the man from down under was guarding the reigning MVP, Curry shot 0-of-8 from the field and turned the ball over four times.
The Warriors held to under 100 points in regulation twice in a row isn’t a matter of not hitting shots. It’s a matter of the Cavaliers playing fantastic defense, the best the Warriors have seen all season, which means a lot of credit to David Blatt, who picked up his first win as an NBA coach in the finals, and is probably out coaching Steve Kerr in this series up to this point.
Just two games, and the Warriors are still favorites. From the words of LeBron James and from the simple eye test, both stars aren’t going to have efficient, beautiful games of basketball. This series, up until now, is calling for something different. Maybe we won’t see historically bad shooting performance as in game 2, but not much better going forward is entirely possible.