The Golden State Warriors are looking to pull their brooms out. The Cleveland Cavaliers are busy sharpening their shovels.
The Cavs find themselves in a hole, but at least it’s a familiar one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we’ve done this before. Four straight years of Cavs/Warriors in the playoffs, and for the third time, Cleveland find themselves attempting to dig themselves out of an 0-2 series ditch.
LeBron James knows adversity like he knows fashion, but unlike his trousers, he won’t be looking to cut this series short.
Cleveland have been heavy underdogs since the Finals began back on June 1, but with a return to Quicken Loans Arena ahead on Thursday, for the first time in a long time punters might finally be giving the Cavs half a chance.
Coming in at $2.65 head-to-head, the ‘underdog’ theme in Game 3 is a familiar one for The King. Over the last seven seasons he’s averaged 28-points in Game 3 of the Finals, including putting up 30-points or more against this same Warriors team over the last three seasons.
You don’t have to look back very far to realise LeBron has been money with the series on the line. Eight straight Finals appearances speak for themselves, but on the back of a rather quiet Game 2 against the Warriors on Monday, suddenly people are starting to question just how far the 33-year old can carry this team.
Of course, as we learned during the series against the Celtics, it seems that when we doubt ‘The King’, he answers his critics with clutch-ness.
Down 0-2 against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, James got one back at home against the Celtics behind 27-points and 12 assists.
Still not convinced LeBron can make this series at the very least, interesting? Maybe a walk down LeBron’s historic Game 3 memory lane will change your mind…
2006: A Sign Of Things To Come
In case you missed it, LeBron has been doing this since day dot. Two night’s after making his playoff debut for Cleveland, a game that saw LeBron open his record book with a lazy 32-point performance at just 22-years old, James then went on to record the first of his many memorable game-winners in Game 3 against the Wizards.
The crossover to make Antonio Daniels second-guess is something we still see LeBron pull off today, while the second-strength effort he shows towards the rim is vintage King James.
2009: Plucking 47-Points From the Hawks’ Feathers
How does two straight sweeps sound?
That’s what the 2008/09 Cavs accomplished, making short work of the Detroit Pistons and then the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron contributed in Game 3 of the latter series with this 47-point beat down in a year that saw him record his first ever MVP award.
2015: A Lazy 40 vs. Golden State
A sign of things to come? Kyrie Irving was unfortunate enough to miss the crucial part of his teams season, fracturing his left knee cap in Game 1 of the Finals.
In his fourth year with the Cavaliers, Irving’s absence placed the burden squarely on LeBron’s shoulders, rising to the challenge with an outrageous 40-point performance in the 46-minutes he played.
In a classic example of James stepping up when the chips are down, this is perhaps example numero uno of how dominant LeBron can be even he’s surrounded by scrubs.
2018: Buzzer-Beater vs. Toronto Raptors
Saving the best till’ last, LeBron outdid himself in Game 3 against the Raptors earlier in these playoffs, nailing this nice teardrop buzzer-beater on the way to a sweep over Toronto.
It may not be the King’s best as far as buzzer-beaters go, but aside from the shot itself, this play highlights just how much of a factor the Cleveland home crowd plays in a postseason game.
Golden State has lost two of the three Game 3’s these two have played during their four year Finals streak, and if James is on like he was back in May against Toronto, we could be talking about a third.