He had been starting for Golden State in these playoffs, part of what is known as the Warriors’ “Hamptons 5” lineup in a nod to the four players who went on the recruiting trip to lure Kevin Durant to their team two summers ago.
Now Cleveland could be down to one final game with James.
And in true Freddie Kruger fashion those nightmares came back to life as Durant rose up from the left wing with 49 seconds to go and buried his sixth 3 of the game – and for all intents and purposes the Cavaliers hopes – to give the Warriors a 110-102 win and commanding 3-0 Finals lead. Curry came with the right cross in Game 2, flooring the Cavs.
“Coaches, I think they have a good game plan moving forward, seeing maybe what kind of adjustments Cleveland can make”, Livingston said. “Our guys just play”.
The mistakes the Cavs made in Games 1 and 3, though, a player of Irving’s caliber might have been able to mitigate.
“You look at it, they’ve got four Hall of Famers on their team in Klay, Dray, Steph and KD”. And there are lots of games in between. We’ve taken several punches from them and we’re up one.
“We’ve been very persistent and very resilient throughout this whole season, no matter what has been going on”, James said. How are we going to attack. Just a different vibe around the team, around just – everything’s just different.
Quicken Loans Arena, known as “The Q” to many, is in the process of getting a makeover.
In Game 3 previous year, with the Cavs clinging to a two-point lead, Durant ran up to the 3-point line and drained one in James’ face.
Stephen Curry made nine 3-pointers in Golden State’s Game 2 win, and the Warriors, who live by a “Strength In Numbers” slogan, could get back forward Andre Iguodala for Game 3.
The teams were locked in a tight battle for most of the second half and the outcome was up in the air until a Durant three-pointer from well beyond the arc put the Warriors ahead by six and all but sealed the game with 50 seconds to play.
James, who is averaging 40 points, 10.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds in two games, abstains from social media during the postseason.
Without their threes dropping, the Cavs offense labours for buckets and in the fourth quarter when they needed to match the Warriors production, they managed just one three-pointer.
Game 4 is Friday night in Cleveland. As such, the Warriors might already have a counter in mind for whatever anticipated adjustment Cleveland makes. Add in Curry’s struggles and it was a minor miracle Golden State only trailed by six, 58-52, at halftime. He kept the Warriors close with his shooting (well, that and the off-ball movement that continues to lead to lay-up after lay-up for the Warriors).
A big component of the difference in his scoring can be explained by looking at how much more often he gets to the free-throw line while playing in front of a home crowd in Cleveland. Cleveland, meanwhile, didn’t attempt a single one.
Things quickly went in Golden State’s favor after that, though, as the Warriors opened the third with a 17-6 run to take their first lead of the game.