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Jerry Sullivan: Warriors find a little extra when it matters, go up 3-0 in Finals

CLEVELAND -- Go ahead. It's OK now. Even Yogi Berra would admit it's over. Compare them with the best teams of all time. Resume the discussion of whether these Warriors could beat the "Showtime" Lakers or the Larry Bird Celtics or Michael Jordan's finest Bulls squads.

There's certainly no one in today's NBA that seems capable of hanging with the Warriors. The Cavaliers gave them their best shot here Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were magnificent, combining for 77 points.

But the Warriors were just too good, too talented, too resourceful. Maybe they're not the best offensive team in the history of the league, but I'd love to visit a hoop fantasy world where they went up against Magic Johnson, who said early this week that his Lakers would sweep the "Dubs."

The Warriors' 118-113 victory was an exhilirating display of offensive basketball by both teams. Ultimately, Golden State had too many weapons, getting 87 points from their offensive troika of Kevin Durant (31), Klay Thompson (30) and Steph Curry, who was brilliant with 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

At some point, a champion needs to have a worthy adversary draw out its very best. That's what happened Wednesday night, as a game Cavs team forced Golden State to play its "A" offensive game to win and extend its record unbeaten playoff streak to 15-0.

"Before the series even started, during the East Conference finals, we knew we getting ready for a juggernaut," James said. "That's probably the most firepower I've played in my career. I've played against some great teams, but no team has had this kind of firepower. Even when you're playing well, you got to play A plus plus to beat them."

The Warriors had 29 assists on their 40 baskets. They shot 16 of 33 from three-point range and 22 of 24 from the foul line. It wasn't perfect. They committed 18 turnovers. But it was enough on a night when the Cavs managed to shoot just 12-for-44 from behind the arc.

"Overall it was a tough, resilient performance," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "Maybe not our smartest game, but our toughest, our ability to hang in there. Nothing was going our way, but we were still there. I thought our guys did a good job."

NBA Finals notebook: Irving rises up, falters at the end

Seriously, how do you stop a team whose third-best offensive player, Klay Thompson, is one of the greatest long-range shooters the game has ever seen? Or a team that can bring a former Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, off the bench?

The Cavs aren't officially done, of course. They get another chance in Game Four here on Friday. They did rally from 3-1 down a year ago. But it's hard to imagine them coming out with a similarly inspiring effort, considering the bleak history of teams that fall behind 3-0 in games in an NBA playoff series.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. That's any playoff series, not just the Finals. Eight of the last nine teams to fall behind, 3-0, got swept. The 1996 Sonics won two games after falling down 3-0 and lost in six.

Cleveland left it all on the court in front of the home fans, and it wasn't enough. It'll be tough for them to summon a similar physical effort on Friday. James (39 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) was indignant about suggestions that the Cavs couldn't play at Golden State's pace and survive.

They came close, but in the end the Cavs seem to hit a wall. When J.R. Smith hit a three-pointer to give them a 113-107 lead with 2:52 left, the crowd went bananas and it looked as if the Cavs were going to hold serve.

But the Warriors owned the game from there. All along, people felt they had another gear, and they found it in the last two minutes. Curry drove through the Cavs for a lefty layup. Durant made an uncontested short jumper from the left baseline.

Then, after Kyle Korver missed a three from the left corner on a James kickout, Durant swished a three-point to make it 114-113. Irving missed a stepback jumper with 30 seconds left -- rather than drive on a night when he was close to unstoppable in the paint.

The Warriors are two wins from an unprecedented level of perfection in American sports

"We could have got better," said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue, seeming to criticize his two top players for not taking it to the hole late. "We did a good job attacking the paint all night. They were playing small. We should have been more aggressive getting to the paint."

Durant hit two free throws. James, evidently exhausted, missed at the other end. Curry made two free throws. Just like that, it was over. An 11-0 run. At the very end, it did seem playing at a fast pace had undone the Cavs. Kerr said he felt the pace would eventually wear down the Cavs.

"Kyrie and LeBron had it going the whole game," Kerr said, "but that's pretty taxing to go one-on-one the whole game. Those guys were amazing, but that takes a lot out of you. We told our guys, they're going to get tired. You hope it's going to take its toll, but I wasn't sure there for awhile.

"I thought fatigue was an issue because the game was so hard-fought," Kerr said. "I think that's what makes our team who we are. We have a lot of guys who can play off the ball and make plays and pick up each other."

That's an understatement. Durant, Curry and Thompson shot a combined 15-for-27 from three. The NBA has never seen a threesome quite like it. I'm sure Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan would quibble about it, but there will be plenty of time for those discussions.

First, they need to finish this series off. But while they were putting the Cavaliers away with that 11-0 late run, it seemed like the Finals was already done. All that's left now is for the Warriors to finish the perfect 16-0 run.

At this point, it's hard to see anyone stopping them.

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