The Cleveland Cavaliers went toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors in for the first time in the 2017 NBA Finals Wednesday night. Game 3 in Cleveland was the best matchup we’ve gotten so far, and the Cavs led late and had several chances to close the contest out. Instead, their offense sputtered, the Warriors responded, and now Cleveland faces a massive 3-0 hole.
While the Warriors authored a brilliant comeback in the final three minutes of Game 3, this was more of a Cleveland loss than a Golden State win. The Cavs killed themselves with their horrible decision-making on offense. And that all started at the 3-point line.
The Cavaliers finished Wednesday night’s game 12-for-44 from beyond the arc. That’s just 27.3 percent. Cleveland shot 11 more 3-pointers than the Warriors, who went 16-for-33. That’s absurd. The Cavs’ only advantage in this series is in the paint and finishing at the basket, yet 44 of their 90 field goal attempts came from long-range. That’s simply unacceptable and it’s just plain lazy offense.
Here’s how the Cavs fared individually from beyond the arc:
Kevin Love: 1-for-7
LeBron James: 5-for-10
Kyrie Irving: 0-for-7
J.R. Smith: 5-for-10
Richard Jefferson: 0-for-2
Deron Williams: 0-for-1
Iman Shumpert: 0-for-2
Kyle Korver: 2-for-6
Trying to out-shoot the Warriors is a fool’s errand, and the Cavs have fallen into that trap. In Game 1 they were 11-for-31 from downtown and in Game 2 they went 8-for-29. So far in the series Cleveland is 31-for-104 from deep, which works out to a woeful 29.8 percent.
The only chance the Cavs have to even win a game, is if LeBron James and Kyrie Irving take over with their driving and finishing. By doing that, they’ll also likely get Golden State in foul trouble, while occasionally opening up wide open looks from the perimeter. If that happens, sure their teammates should take those shots, but it shouldn’t be a focus of the offense.
The Cavs simply don’t have the firepower to get into a shooting contest with the Warriors. They have to play smarter if they want to extend this series beyond four games.