James' Cavs seize control of NBA Finals, take 2-1 lead
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
The Cleveland Cavaliers had just jumped out to a 20-point lead, the largest lead of the series for any team. The chants of "Del-ly-Del-ly-Del-ly" were raining down from the Cavaliers fans at Quicken Loans Arena, and they were deafening. It was simply amazing.
"We couldn't even hear each other on the set," uttered Dwayne Wade, who was a guest analyst for ABC.
Cavaliers fans had been waiting eight long years to have a chance at witnessing something similar to what they saw on Tuesday night, and it sure seemed worth the wait to them on this night.
What they saw out of local folk hero Matthew Dellavedova for the second consecutive game is absolutely bonkers. For the second night in a row, Dellavedova appeared to be in Stephen Curry's head. Curry couldn't buy a basket in the first half, and it was because Dellavedova was nearly stitched to the inside of his jersey.
"He's going to give everything he's got," LeBron James said. "His body, he's going to throw his body all over the place. And he's going to compete at a high level however many minutes he's out on the floor."
Dellavedova was the Cavaliers second leading scorer with 20 points. He set the tone the entire night with his intensity and effort. By the time the final buzzer sounded, and he had finished chasing Curry around, the scrappy Aussie needed an IV from a local hospital to soothe severe cramps.
"He plays as hard as he can every day," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. "He plays right. He's not afraid. He plays courageously. And everybody on his team has his back. It's not an issue of confidence. He is going to give you whatever he has."
Curry shot 1-for-6 and scored three points in the first half of the game with Dellavedova draped all over him. That was instrumental to the Cavaliers jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. The Cavaliers never trailed in the game and were in complete control of this basketball game on Tuesday night.
However, Curry did find his shot during the fourth quarter, which sparked a big run for the Warriors to make it somewhat of a game in the closing minutes. He finished what was yet another average shooting night with 27 points. His 'splash brother' Klay Thompson struggled to find his shot for the entirety of the game.
Thompson followed up his great shooting performance Sunday night by only scoring 14 points. The Warriors have practically no chance at beating the Cavaliers on the road unless both of the 'Splash Brothers' are clicking and in rhythm.
But let's talk about the man of the hour, LeBron James. What James is doing in these NBA Finals is simply incredible. We might be witnessing the greatest individual all-time performance in NBA Finals history. The man is carrying the team on his back, averaging near a triple-double and 40 points per night. There's no other way to put it besides truly remarkable.
James finished Game 3 the same way he finished Game 2, by leading the Cavaliers in the crucial moments of the game. James scored 40 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished eight assists. But it's James' leadership that is practically enabling a guy like Dellavedova to buy in, believe and step up.
Three straight games of slow, Eastern Conference basketball are what we've seen. That's going to favor LeBron and the Cavs every, single time, no matter who the opponent.
The Cavaliers have practically put the Warriors to sleep by playing a slow, grind every possession out type of basketball. The Warriors love to get up and down the court and score points in bunches, but the Cavaliers ability to slow the game down has played a colossal role in Cleveland winning two of the first three games in this series.
The Warriors were held below 60 points through three quarters in consecutive games. That's something that hadn't happened once all season heading into Game 3. If the Warriors continue to allow the Cavaliers to muck it up, they have virtually no shot at coming back to win three out of the next four games.
The Cavaliers must take notice of Curry and the Warriors fourth quarter performance in Game 3. The Cavaliers defense had the Warriors frustrated the entire night, but Curry found his game in the fourth. He hit a handful of deep contested shots from downtown to get the Warriors back in the game, and that's not something you want to see if you're a Cavs fan.
Ultimately, the Cavaliers have led the Warriors for more than 80 percent of the series. Curry's shooting woes have been the main problem for the Warriors. The Cavaliers may have allowed the league MVP to find his rhythm and confidence heading into a pivotal Game 4.
If James' Cavaliers can handle business on their home court and take Game 4, I cannot envision any scenario where Curry leads the Warriors back to win three games in a row. The Cavaliers must come out on Thursday with the same sense of urgency they've had all series.
If they can do that, they should be able to take a commanding lead in this series, and give the folks in Cleveland the scent, and taste of what it takes to win an NBA championship.
If you told me that LeBron James would have the Cavaliers up two games to one in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, I would have thought you were crazy.
But that's exactly where James has his Cavaliers. Just two games away from their ultimate goal, and something he never would've imagined the Cavaliers accomplishing in his first year back in Cleveland.
Maybe that's why they call it Believeland?
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @TRosen12