What do Pangako Sa’yo and the NBA Finals have in common? King James, Chef Curry and the rest of the championship cast have captivated us the same way the popular soap has enchanted our moms and titas. The first two meetings were instant classics, and the third encounter, held earlier today at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, was another one to remember.
The Cavs were throwing haymakers right at the Golden State Warriors, who fought back as hard as they could to keep their heads afloat. When the final buzzer sounded, it was LeBron and his cavalry who were left standing to claim the hard-fought 96-91 victory.
Althought a 2-1 standing in favor of Cleveland comes as no surprise, the manner by which we have gotten to it has been dramatic—and for some, almost improbable. Below are the elements that have left us in disbelief, and have made for a Finals series to remember. May the next games be just as tweet-worthy!
1) LEBRON DOING IT AGAIN AND AGAIN...AND AGAIN
Forty points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and two blocks. LeBron has managed another freakish stat line. He carried the whole Cavs on his back and brought them another W—in spite of moments when he couldn’t hit the mark, thus his 41-percent field goal shooting.
Late in the game, he made all the important free throws and he did everything with the poise of a truly great team captain, one with championship experience. His Finals record 123 points through the first three games has taken his squad to just a couple of wins away from winning the NBA crown.
Effect on the series: LeBron’s third straight godlike performance must be demoralizing for the Dubs. The first-time finalists have been gritty but their toughness seems not enough to limit the King’s output below 39 points.
What Golden State must do: Before Game 4 begins, Steve Kerr should order someone to slip an LBM-inducing pill in LeBron’s drink. But seriously, LBJ has become unstoppable. The best thing the Warriors can do is to repeat what they did in their Game 1 win: guard 'Bron one on one, no matter how much he scores, and just focus on limiting the output of his teammates. They can also pray that LBJ cramps up as he almost did in the end-game earlier today.
2) MATTHER DELLAVEDOVA TRANSFORMING INTO THE MVP SLAYER
In the first three quarters, Dellavedova once again took Steph Curry out of the game. The reigning MVP was a non-factor before the fourth, having only made one shot out of seven. Although Curry woke up during the last minutes of the game, it’s clear that the rugged Aussie has gotten the better of him. Delly had an impact on the offensive end as well as he finished with 20 markers—a playoffs career-high—and countless dives for the ball.
Delly also had a highlight that's sure to be included in post-Finals tribute videos everywhere should the Cavs go all the away. With the Cavs’ nursing a shaky one-point lead in the dying moments, he completed an and-one off of—who else—Curry.
Effect on the series: While the Bay Area team has yet to solve the LeBron puzzle, Cleveland has found out that Dellavedova is the answer to the Curry riddle. If Delly continues subduing Steph for long stretches in the following games, the Cavs can expect rings!
We've got this strange feeling though that Curry's about to launch an "Eff-You-I-Am-The-MVP" meteor shower on Delly (and all his doubters) in one of the next few games.
What Golden State must do: They should start respecting Delly more, and play him as if he’s the elite player he’s proving to be. And if we were the Warriors, we’d play more like Matthew, who hustles all-out.
3) J.R. SMITH NOT HELPING THE WARRIORS WIN
J.R. Smith scored 10 timely points, didn’t turn the ball over, and didn’t commit a dumb foul. Smith’s contribution—though seemingly small—was that extra scoring punch LeBron needed as he dragged his Cavs to the finish line.
Effect on the series: With Smith finding his touch and keeping his brain from shutting down, LeBron and the Cavs are going to be very hard to beat. Deep inside, J.R.'s feeling all:
What Golden State must do: Prevent J.R.—a notorious streak shooter—from getting his groove on. They've got enough on their hands with Delly and LeBron.
4) THE LEAGUE'S TOP CHEF STILL NOT SERVING THE PERFECT DISH
Curry had 27 points, six dimes and six boards. Not bad, right? Well, it’s not good either because his scoring surge came too late. He was a ghost in the first three quarters, which enabled the Cavs to build a 20 point-lead—a cushion big enough to withstand the Warriors’ roaring comeback attempt in the final quarter.
Effect on the series: This one's simple. If Steph can't shake off this slump, then he’ll suffer the same fate as the wide-eyed OKC team who lost to LBJ’s 2012 Miami Heat outfit. LeBron is playing his bit brilliantly as the Cavs leader, Curry must do the same if he wants to win again in this series.
What Steph must do: Curry’s struggles mainly stems from Dellavedova. He needs to slow down, clear his mind, and get rid of the frustration caused by Delly’s harassing defense. Personally, we want to see him attacking the basket more, just to keep Delly and the Cavs guessing. But for him to accomplish that, he first needs to match the energy thrown at him by his newfound nemesis. A headstrong Curry can certainly turn the tide of the series.
5) THE GOLDEN STATE TRAIN IS SPUT-SPUT-SPUTTERING
Some numbers to think about:
GSW FG%: 40%
GSW 3FG%: 35.3%
These won't cut it. The Warriors offense has become so predictable that the Cavs have memorized it like a nursery rhyme. Cleveland’s Bad Boy Pistons-like defense have rendered every guy on the Dubs roster not named Andre Iguodala sterile, especially Harrison Barnes who went 0-of-8!
Effect on series: Coach Kerr needs to come up with a new offensive ploy in the next two days as Steph and Klay Thompson launching threes off screens won’t do the job anymore.
What Golden State must do: More plays attacking the basket will do wonders for the Warriors. Klay can drive to the hole, as evidenced by his semi-facial on Timofey Mozgov in the third. Steph can weave his way inside and create plays as well. Seeing them as aggressive rim attackers will open more opportunities for the rest of the Dubs to score easily and will add pressure to the Cavs defense that looks so menacing at the moment.
6) DAVID LEE CAN STILL BALL!
Cleveland was threatening to blow the game wide open when Kerr pulled out his magic hugot David Lee.