The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 on Wednesday to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the NBA Finals and move to within one game of an unprecedented perfect run through the playoffs.
Kevin Durant scored a team-high 31 points for the Warriors, who improved to 15-0 in the postseason and will get a chance on Friday in Cleveland to become the first team to go unbeaten all the way to a title.
Cleveland had looked like they might prevail when they led by six points with three minutes to play but Durant led the Warriors on an impressive 11-0 run to close out the game.
Durant’s pull-up three-pointer over LeBron James with 45 seconds remaining gave the Warriors their first lead since late in the third quarter and silenced what had been a raucous crowd.
“All I was looking at was the bottom of the net,” said Durant, a four-times scoring champion playing his first season with Golden State. “I’ve been working on that shot my whole life.”
James led the way for Cleveland with 39 points while Kyrie Irving added 38 in an electrifying performance.
The NBA’s best-of-seven championship was billed as the ultimate grudge match between the league’s last two champions and some pundits felt it could go down as one of the most hotly-contested series of all-time.
Steph Curry, left, and Kevin Durant at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Curry and Durant helped the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals series. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY
But the top-seeded Warriors are playing at another level and barring a meltdown of epic proportions, will soon be celebrating their second NBA title in three seasons.
There was a scary moment late in the first quarter when James collapsed to the floor after running head-first into the shoulder of teammate Tristan Thompson. The four-times MVP laid on the floor several seconds before being helped up.