It was refreshing to see a different scenario in the fourth quarter of game three; it was refreshing to see Cleveland not getting obliterated by the Warriors’ offensive mastery. Cleveland had a six point lead with just 2:25 left in the game, but LeBron James managed to blow another clutch moment in a career full of them.
Even worse for LeBron, he managed out to get outperformed on an individual level again. After going down six, LeBron’s defensive assignment, Kevin Durant, who James must not have been guarding to conserve energy for offense he didn’t even provide anyways, scored seven straight points after a Stephen Curry layup to take a three point lead.
Three of those points were Durant simply walking into a three point shot early into the possession (only five seconds off the shot clock.) Two more were scored by Durant getting an easy floater nearly at the rim:
Durant is right at the rim. Why Cleveland would let a 6’8″ struggling big man like Tristan Thompson attempt to guard a 7’0″ guard of Durant’s ability is beyond shocking. Even more disappointing is the fact that LeBron allows for himself to be already sealed and boxed out by Draymond Green.
James then blows his chance at redemption on the offensive end, three times. First, LeBron missed an easy 12 foot shot at the 1:29 mark. Then, at the :53 mark, LeBron passed up a good shot at the basket to Kyle Korver for a contested corner three, which he missed. Finally, while still down three, James not only missed a corner three pointer attempt, but he was blocked by 33 year old Andre Iguodala:
This marks just another instance in which LeBron has not been able to come through in the clutch. The Warriors outscored Cleveland 29-19 in the fourth quarter, and for the series, James has only shot 36% in the fourth. In the last five minutes of game three, James went 0/3 and had a turnover.
James’ career is full of other players bailing him out. Kyrie Irving won the series last year with his three pointer, Ray Allen saved LeBron in 2013 with the corner three, Even in 2007, Daniel Gibson had 31 points against the Pistons in game six while LeBron shot 3/11.
Throughout the series, the help was surely there. Kyrie Irving did his part to help the team. He scored 29.4 points per game on a .472/.419/.900 shooting line. Kevin Love averaged 16.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game in the series. Even J.R. Smith averaged 18.7 points per game on 63.1% shooting and 63.0% three point shooting in the last three games of the five game series.
There was a lot of hype around James, especially in the GOAT conversation. That hype just deflated tremendously after getting embarrassed in five games by a team created in the team-stacking system LeBron made relevant again.