Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday Morning Pickup. Be nice to me, I haven't been on a court in two months and can only shoot threes, and not well. Rather like the Golden State Warriors for portions of last night's Game 3 of the NBA Finals, won, eventually, by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-91 in regulation for once. LeBron James continued to play utterly out of his mind with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, and Matthew Dellavedova continued his run of incredible form with 20 points combined with (mostly) shutting down MVP Stephen Curry. Curry scored only 3 points in the first half and continues to look very out of sorts.
The Cavaliers were up by 17 at the end of the third quarter of this game, having lead by as many as 20, and threatened to really blow the Warriors out of Quicken Loans Arena. However, the fourth quarter of this game should be a much bigger talking point than it will be moving into Game 4 on Thursday. After quarter after quarter of struggle, Stephen Curry and the 3-pointer got reacquainted. Curry's line in the fourth: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 6-of-9 from the field, 5-of-8 from 3, +12. If the last part of Curry's line, three costly turnovers, had been erased, the Warriors very nearly could have stolen this game. Curry finished with 27, 6 and 6 on a night where he looked very ordinary for much of it., and the Warriors cut the lead to 3 near the end of the game before free throws from James and Dellavedova and turnovers by Curry iced the game. It was a key reminder to the large quantity of the internet that declared this series over during the third quarter that the Warriors are still a very, very good team, and can close pretty much any deficit.
Quick points from last night:
- If Golden State goes on to win this series, take a really hard look at Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP. Iggy was the reason Golden State even stayed in touch in the first half, and has been the Warriors' best player by a good margin, even with Curry showing flashes of peak Curry near the end of the game.
- Down 84-80 with a little over two minutes left, Draymond Green picked up an offensive rebound and shuttled the ball to Curry. Curry tried to pass it behind his back to Green, who didn't read it well and the ball went out of bounds for a turnover. Let me say that again: In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, down 4 points with the ball, Stephen Curry tried a behind-the-back pass that arguably should have worked. The dude has no fear, and I love it.
- Speaking of Mr. Green, he and Harrison Barnes were tied with the lowest +/- on the night at -14, and it was richly deserved. Both were hesitant to shoot, especially from long range, and Green lost his cool at one stage during the third quarter run. Interestingly, the highest +/- of anyone in the game belonged to a Warrior, one who hadn't played a minute in the first two games of the series. Anyone remember (St. Louis's own!) David Lee? Lee was +17 on the night in his 13:17, +18 in 10:30 of the fourth quarter, in his first significant minutes since the conference semifinals against Memphis.
- And last, while we're looking at minutes, one of the reasons the Warriors are still very much in this series? David Blatt is playing an eight-man rotation, and two of those eight played less than eleven minutes last night. (Mike Miller's stat line on the night: 5:14, 1 steal, +3. No, really, that's it. Nothing else.) Iman Shumpert left the game during the first quarter with a left shoulder injury, but returned in the second and played most of the rest of the game. Dellavedova was reportedly hospitalized with severe cramping after the game and received an IV in the arena. LeBron is superhuman, but is resting a total of under five minutes a game. The Warriors' depth can still win them this series.
But yes, there remain two professional basketball teams in the Twin Cities. One's even in season right now!
- The Lynx are 2-0 and look to continue that at Target Center tomorrow evening against the Seattle Storm. I'll try and have a more full preview in tomorrow's Therapy, but go see the game, go support this awesome basketball team.
- In Flip news, he's spending lots of time in Los Angeles looking at Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor, as well he should be, according to the estimable Darren Wolfson. Also on his to-see list: Kristaps Porzingis (Sunday), Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell (next week, also via Wolfson)
- Not sure how much it was posted around here yesterday, but Zach Lowe's piece on Kevin Love's past and future is well worth a read. Linked below, along with a paragraph I thought was worth contemplating.
Because it's stuck in my head from my summer band concert last night, you all get to enjoy Missouri's finest: Claude T. Smith's Declaration Overture. Enjoy Wednesday, and no diving for the knees (or Delly-ing) (jest) during pickup today.