Tonight’s a pivotal night in the NBA Finals. The Cavs are looking to get on the board in this series, after two convincing losses to the Warriors out in Oakland. Those losses especially convinced me that it was a bad idea to predict that this series was going to go seven games. Now it looks like we could be in for a sweep, or the five game gentleman’s sweep. On top of that, people are starting to speculate about what a result like that could mean for Cleveland and their future. Could this series be the last we see of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving or Tyronn Lue with the Cavs? Speaking of Kevin Love, he’s out tonight after getting hit in the dome in Game 2. He was not cleared to play tonight, and apparently, he’s pretty irritated about it! Richard Jefferson will replace him in the starting lineup, as the Cavs are going with a smaller lineup tonight. Will they find success and get themselves back into this series, or are they doomed to sink in a flood of drama, brought upon them by their own self-imposed pressure, and the weight of their historically great opponent?
8:59 pm – We’re welcomed to the Quicken Loans Arena in beautiful downtown Cleveland, Ohio by our old pals, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. It’s time for Game 3 of the Finals! As discussed above, the Cavs desperately need a win here tonight. They’ll have their fans at their back, and they’re undefeated at home in the Playoffs, but do they have enough to overcome the Warriors?
9:03 – Muhammad Ali is honored with a moment of silence here in Cleveland, just as he was before Game 2 out in Oakland.
A moment of silence for The Greatest. pic.twitter.com/CA4Se5REOf
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 9, 2016
That’s followed by the fans in Cleveland singing the National Anthem themselves, as per Cleveland tradition. As the camera pans across the stands, several people who have left their hats on are seen, as are people who are messing around on their phones. No word on if that’s also per Cleveland tradition.
9:10 – The Warriors win the opening tip, and Game 3 is underway up in Cleveland!
9:11 – Kyrie Irving hits a jumper to get the Cavs the first points of the ball game and a quick 2-0 lead.
9:13 – Richard Jefferson hits a three, and the Quicken Loans Arena is abuzz with excitement because the score’s Cleveland 9, Golden State 0 with 9:30 left in the first quarter. The Warriors call a time out as the Cavs have gotten off to exactly the sort of start they needed.
9:17 – Draymond Green finds Andrew Bogut for a dunk, and the Warriors are finally on the board and trail, 9-2.
9:24 – After a defensive lapse from the Cavs, Andre Iguodala breaks free for a big dunk, but the Warriors are still in a big hole early with the score Cleveland 21, Golden State 8 with 4:18 left in the opening quarter. The Warriors have been sluggish, shooting 0-6 from three point land, and just 4-13 overall to start the game. That being said, I have no doubt that they’re going to get it together and get back into this game.
9:29 – Timofey Mozgov is making an early appearance in this game. He was a key component to the Cavs Playoff run last year, but he’s been scarcely seen in the postseason this year. Channing Frye joins him off the bench as the Cavs elect to go big.
9:30 – Steph Curry commits his second foul, and he’ll head off to the bench in shame. He’s off to a terrible start, scoring no points on 0-2 shooting in the first ten minutes of action.
9:31 – Wow, Iman Shumpert is sporting a man-bun tonight.
9:32 – You know you’re in for a long night when Mike Breen is already yelling “BANG!” in the first quarter, as he just did after a Kyrie Irving three puts the Cavs up 33-13.
9:34 – After banging knees with Timofey Mozgov and landing hard on the floor, Klay Thompson gets up and goes straight to the Warriors locker room. He leaves with zero points on 0-5 shooting in what’s been a wretched start for the Brothers Splash.
9:36 – Harrison Barnes takes it to the hoop and beats the buzzer against LeBron, but unfortunately for the Warriors, buzzer beaters aren’t worth 20 points. At the end of the first quarter, the score’s Cleveland 33, Golden State 16. Klay & Steph are a combined 0-8 from the field, and the Warriors are 7-20 as a team. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s 15-21, and Kyrie Irving already has 16 points, but why do I still think the Warriors are going to come back in this one?
9:41 – Harrison Barnes leads off the second quarter with a jumper, and the Warriors have their deficit down to 33-18.
9:42 – Shaun Livingston shovels a pass over to Draymond Green, who finishes off a fast break with a dunk. The Cavs call a time out with the score Cleveland 33, Golden State 20 with 10:19 left in the first half and the Warriors starting to show signs of life.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) June 9, 2016
In other news…
Official word from the Warriors’ locker room: Klay Thompson is expected to return (left thigh contusion)
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 9, 2016
9:51 – Klay Thompson returns to the game for the Warriors, who trail 38-27 as they continue to try and chisel away at the Cavs lead.
9:52 – We have a time out in between a couple of Tristan Thompson free throws. He makes the first one, and the score’s Cleveland 39, Golden State 27 with 6:56 left until halftime.
9:55 – Back from the time out, Steph Curry has also returned to the Warriors lineup, after Tristan Thompson’s second free throw gives the Cavs a 40-27 lead.
9:57 – A time out is called during a scrum for a loose ball in which Draymond Green apparently had possession of the ball enough for the Warriors to get away with the time out. This leads Jeff Van Gundy to complain about this, saying there needs to be a rule against these time outs. Personally, I’m against any situation that leads to more talking by Jeff Van Gundy during the game.
10:02 – Klay Thompson knocks down a three, and he’s starting to find his shooting stroke again. The Cavs call a time out with the score Cleveland 48, Golden State 39 with 2:49 left in the first half.
10:09 – Steph Curry picks up his third foul late in the second quarter, and the MVP is heading back to the bench as he continues to struggle with just two points on 1-5 shooting.
10:12 – JR Smith knocks down a half court shot at the buzzer to end the first half! Will it count? The answer is NO! He didn’t quite get it off in time, and as a result, our halftime score is Cleveland 51, Golden State 43.
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) June 9, 2016
Kyrie Irving exploded for 19 first half points to lead the Cavs, and LeBron James added 11. Tristan Thompson played a vital role for the Cavs, scoring 8 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Harrison Barnes had 10 points and 6 boards to lead the Warriors, and Klay Thompson shook off a poor start to also score ten. Steph Curry is just 1-5 for two points.
Despite getting off to a great start, the Cavs played a pretty crummy second quarter to let the Warriors back into this game. The scariest part for Cleveland is that Golden State didn’t particularly play that well in the second quarter, and they still battled back into the game. If the Cavs don’t shape up, this one is going to slip away of them, even if the Warriors don’t play as well as they normally do.
10:24 – It’s time for tonight’s episode of Today in NBA Playoff History, brought to you by the fine folks over at Basketball-Reference!
Back on June 8th, 1986, the Boston Celtics won their 16th NBA championship with a 114-97 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 6 at the old Boston Garden. Larry Bird punctuated the series with a triple-double, springing for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Kevin McHale also scored 29, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. Robert Parish chipped in with 11 points and 11 boards. Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 19 & 13, but his frontcourt partner Ralph Sampson stumbled to a quiet 8 point, 10 rebound performance as the Rockets got run out of the building. Along with this year’s Warriors, those Celtics are amongst the hallowed teams that are considered the best of all time. Instead of sparking a pointless argument over which of those two teams would win in a hypothetical series, we here at The Bonus are going to just sit back and appreciate them both. (The Celtics would totally win, though).
10:31 – Two Tristan Thompson free throws score the first points of the second half, putting the Cavs ahead, 53-43.
10:35 – We have a time out as the Cavs have gotten off to a strong start here in the second half. The score’s Cleveland 60, Golden State 46 with 9:12 left in the third quarter. I still think the Warriors are coming back.
10:38 – Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get off on a fast break, but Curry’s pass to Thompson leads him away from the hoop, and out towards the three point line, which allows the pursuing Cavs defense to catch up. Klay shoots a three and misses, instead of getting an easy dunk. Absolutely horrible stuff. I no longer think the Warriors are coming back, and after that horrible display, I wouldn’t even want them to.
10:44 – LeBron James hits a three, and the Warriors are getting buried. The score’s Cleveland 70, Golden State 48 with 5:48 left in the third quarter. The whole team has been horrible, but Steph Curry has been particularly horrendous. He looks like the Monstars stole his powers.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 9, 2016
10:48 – Former Cavalier Anderson Varejao is in the game for the Warriors, and the Cleveland fans are booing him for some reason.
Varejao getting booed by the Cleveland crowd. Did they think he traded himself?
— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) June 9, 2016
Couldn’t have set it better myself, Amin!
10:51 – Time out with the score Cleveland 77, Golden State 59 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Steph Curry is now resorting to just jacking up shitty three-pointers that have no chance of going in, even for him. He’s playing so badly, I feel personally offended. Meanwhile, with the Cavs rolling, the anti-Kevin Love crowd have got to be feeling pretty good about themselves tonight.
11:00 – After a foul stops play, Steph Curry attempts a meaningless layup, but LeBron comes over and blocks it, just because he can. It’s been that kind of night for the Warriors.
11:01 – The third quarter comes to an end. Our score’s Cleveland 89, Golden State 69. With all of the talk about how lousy the Warriors have been, it’s easy to forget about how well the Cavs are playing. This is exactly the kind of effort they needed tonight, and then some. They’re making this a series again, which makes me happy. It would have been depressing to have the season end on Friday night with a Golden State sweep.
11:06 – Iman Shumpert hits a three from the corner, giving the Cavs not only the first points of the fourth quarter, but their first points off the bench tonight. It extends their lead up to 92-69.
11:11 – We’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 95, Golden State 72 with 8:33 left in the game. At this point, I’m just rooting for this game to by the time The Late Show with Stephen Colbert starts. I wouldn’t want to miss the start of the show.
11:14 – Hey, Channing Frye got called for a technical foul during that time out, as he grazed Klay Thompson’s dome with an errant elbow before the time out was called. I think the refs just kind of feel bad for the Warriors, and called a pity technical in their favor.
11:19 – Steph Curry goes to the hoop for a lefty layup, plus he’s fouled. Unfortunately for him, the score’s Cleveland 103, Golden State 79 with 5:52 remaining as the Cavs call a time out.
11:22 – Curry hits his free throw, and the Warriors have their deficit down to 23!
11:25 – Another time out with the score Cleveland 108, Golden State 83 with 4:37 left. Come on guys, let’s wrap this up!
11:28 – Our pals Mo Williams, Dahntay Jones, James Jones and Timofey Mozgov are into the basketball game for the Cavs. You know what that means! It’s Garbage Time!
11:35 – Oh man, even Jordan McRae has snuck into the game for the Cavs. I shouldn’t be so snarky, these guys are playing in the National Basketball Association, and I’m sitting here typing a blog on my couch.
11:38 – The game finally comes to an end with a final score of Cleveland 120, Golden State 90. Gross.
LeBron James led the way with a great performance, ending the night with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. He had plenty of help, as Kyrie Irving was right behind him with 30 points and 8 assists, and after two horrid games to start the Finals, JR Smith scored 20 points and shot 5-10 from downtown. As for the Warriors, Steph Curry led them with 19 points, but he was downright awful all night, along with the rest of the team.
That had to be the worst game we’ve seen from the Warriors, and Steph Curry, in a long while, but enough about them. Their awfulness shouldn’t overshadow a great response from the Cavs tonight. A lot of people were happy to consider them dead after the first two games, but Cleveland started tonight’s game with a bang, and never looked back. Now, it’s the Warriors who are searching for answers and looking to rebound after a terrible performance. More importantly, we might actually have a series on our hands, although it’d be nice if these two teams would give us a close game. Even if it’s just one. We’ll take what we can get at this point.