The Cavaliers needed to come out strong in game 3 to have any chance in the series.
Cleveland stormed out to a 30-10 lead in the first quarter as Golden State couldn’t find anything on offense. The Cavalier defense locked them up, forced turnovers, and challenged every shot in reaching a 33-16 after the first quarter. They never looked back, winning by a score of 120-90.
The Splash Brothers were notably absent in the early going until Klay Thompson scored on consecutive possessions late in the 2nd quarter to bring the Cavs lead down to 9. As a result, Cleveland went into half clinging to an 8 point lead after JR Smith’s halfcourt buzzer-beater was good, but a moment too late.
Cleveland shot just 6-27 from the field in the 2nd as their offense went stagnant and LeBron James couldn’t finish around the rim. Despite the awful shooting, the Cavs were able to hang on into the break behind 19 first half points for Kyrie Irving. Once again, the bench units were meaningful for each team. Cleveland’s bench scored exactly 0 points in the first half while Golden State’s collected 13 points.
Once the 2nd half began, it was back to work for the Cavaliers. Cleveland stretched the lead from 8 to 20 at the end of the 3rd. James was sensational again and electrified the arena by finishing a thunderous alley-oop from Kyrie Irving.
Just when it looked as though Curry was going to make it tight - he scored 13 in the 3rd quarter, including a 4 point play - but Golden State couldn’t get within range.
Everything the Warriors tried, the Cavaliers had an answer.
Whenever Golden State tried to go big, Tristan Thompson dominated inside. When the Warriors went small, Richard Jefferson played out of his mind. When the Warriors tried to go to the bench, JR Smith shut them down and hit a three. Smith ended with 20 points on 5-10 shooting from deep.
Cleveland got major contributions across the board: Richard Jefferson got the start in place of the injured Kevin Love and found himself in the midst of big plays - he had active hands, grabbed 9 rebounds, and quietly scored 8 points for the Cavs. LeBron and Kyrie scored 32 and 30, respectively, with James grabbing 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
The game MVP, however, was Tristan Thompson. The big-man showed that he was worth the big contract extension from this preseason by pulling in 7 offensive rebounds and 13 overall to go with his 14 points. He continually gave the Cavs second-chances and after some early jumpers weren't falling around him, he finished a few on his own.
The Cavaliers were clear to pull their starters at a timeout with 4:40 left in the game as Golden State waved the white flag. Game 4 will be Friday night in Cleveland.