How the Cleveland Cavaliers Blew Game 3 and the Finals in Less Than a Minute and a Half
The Cleveland Cavaliers not only lost the first two games of the 2016-17 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, but they were blown out so badly in both contests -- by a combined 41 points -- that they were not even favored to win for a single second in either game.
Game 3 was a completely different story, with 10 ties, 18 lead changes, and no advantage exceeding eight points for either team at any given moment. The biggest change was that it was the Cavaliers that were in the driver's seat for most of the fourth quarter this time around, while the Warriors played catch up for once.
But catch up they did.
Here's your game graph. The Cavs, uh, had a difficult time in the last 90 seconds, I'd say. pic.twitter.com/gbBTT5r5xq
— numberFire (@numberFire) June 8, 2017
The moral victory of a close game isn't comforting Cavalier fans today, however, since this is a game that Cleveland absolutely should have won.
That percentage would creep up to a series-high 86.82% with 2:29 to go, and even remained at a commanding 86.07% when Kyle Korver missed a three with 0:53 left in the game and the score at 113-111.
Then, Kevin Durant reminded us why the Warriors signed him in the first place.
KEVIN. DURANT. @warriors: 116@cavs: 113
12 seconds to play in Game 3. CLE 🏀 pic.twitter.com/47VReSvRcC
— NBA (@NBA) June 8, 2017
That cold-blooded pull-up triple in LeBron James' face made the score 114-113 in favor of the Warriors (their first lead since the 3:03 mark in the third quarter) and represented the biggest swing in odds in a single play at any point in this series -- a 35.20% swoop from 75.59% in favor of the Cavs to a 59.61% advantage for the Dubs.
The Cavs never scored again and the Warriors went on to seal the 118-113 victory with two pairs of free throws courtesy of Durant and Stephen Curry.
The Warriors now have a practically guaranteed 98.46% chance of winning this series, according to our algorithms, and a 55.89% chance of completing the sweep in Game 4 on Friday. If they pull off said sweep, they would become the first team in NBA history to ever have a perfect playoff record with a 16-0 mark.
In the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron and the Cavs spat in the face of our 94.4% odds that they would lose the series after going down 3-1, but a repeat of that historic comeback -- and more specifically, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 0-3 series deficit -- seems virtually impossible. 1.54% can barely be classified as a chance.
And to think that the Cavaliers basically had Game 3 in hand with a minute left and over an 80% chance of winning. In a long history of painful moments in Cleveland sports history, that Durant shot is bound to rank up there.