Over the weekend, our reward as fans for patiently awaiting the return of the NBA conference finals was…two anticlimactic blowouts, one that kept the narrative alive for two titans of the East trading blows as they defend their home floors, the other a reinforcement of the idea that Mike D’Antoni is the Marty Schottenheimer of basketball coaches and Daryl Morey, like Billy Beane in baseball, has a secret system that doesn’t work in the playoffs.
Beginning in the East, Saturday featured Cleveland just plain kicking the crap out of Boston 116-86. The game got out of hand almost from the beginning; the Cavs were up 20-4 after seven minutes and led by 23 toward the end of the first half.
Boston shot 39.2 percent from the field and just 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from three, turned the ball over 15 times, got out-rebounded 45-34, watched LeBron James put up a 27-point, 12-assist night on just 8-of-12 shooting…
…indeed, nobody on the Cavaliers attempted more than 12 shots. This was the team effort that nobody believed LeBron’s supporting cast was capable of.
It was, plain and simple, either a case of “the losing team in a five-game series wins Game 3” or a sign that this one might just go 7 without the road team winning a game.
Monday, we’ll find out.
Do you like three-pointers? Good, because Cleveland hit a lot of them:
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 20, 2018
LeBron is and will be the King:
— NBA (@NBA) May 20, 2018
And while postgame press conferences aren’t normally the domain of this column, LeBron gives such good interview…
Bron broke down some of his assists from Game 3 win: "They're all pretty difficult. Don’t try it at home.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 20, 2018
Stephen Curry was atrocious in the first half against the Houston Rockets, going 3-of-11 from the field and 1-of-7 from three on his way to just nine points.
After the half, Curry scored 18 points in the third quarter on seven attempts, all of which he made, including a pair of three-pointers and a pair of free throws. That brought him instantly to 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) shooting overall even as he still stood at 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from three.
And in the fourth quarter, Curry iced the game by scoring eight points on 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from long range.
Final count? 35 points, 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from the field, 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from three, and 4-of-4 from the line. He shot 83.3 percent in the second half on 12 tries.
Oh, and the final score? 126-85. A complete and utter humiliation of the Rockets, who got a combined 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) shooting night from James Harden and Chris Paul, saw Clint Capela held to just eight rebounds while Draymond Green hauled in 17.
Oh, and Kevin Durant scored 25 points.
Houston looks an awful lot like they’re toast. Down 2-1, home court surrendered, their so-called MVP shooting the ball terribly…
Consider this. Would you ever count on James Harden to beat any team in the league by himself in the playoffs?
And isn’t that kind of LeBron’s brand?
We can only hope the MVP voters in the media got it right. Or that maybe Houston and Cleveland do both come back just so LeBron can humiliate Harden in person.
But in the meantime, Steph gonna Steph:
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2018
Durant the merc gets the job done:
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2018
And oh by the way, the Dubs set a franchise record for largest margin of victory in the postseason, no mean feat for a club whose first championship came in the BAA/NBA’s inaugural season in 1947.
71 years. One huge game.
Breakfast Special returns tomorrow with a recap and some highlights from Celtics-Cavs Game 4. Will Boston set the stage for a Game 5 closeout? Or will the Cavs make a series of it and put heavy pressure on Boston to avoid a potential Game 6 elimination game?
Tune in tomorrow and find out…well, OK, you’ll know who won by then, this isn’t 1985 where you’d wait for the morning paper. But you’ll know why and what it means. And that’s worth your morning, right?
Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!