CLEVELAND -- The Warriors attempt to make history tonight by sweeping the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and completing an unprecedented 16-0 run through the playoffs. And if that happens, don't be surprised if Kevin Durant is holding the trophy for Finals MVP at the end.
Durant is a solid favorite at this point, despite the overall brilliance of Steph Curry, who is averaging 28.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the series. It's pretty amazing that a player could have that sort of stat line and not be the favorite for MVP. But Durant has been even better offensively and has been the best defensive player in the Finals as well.
Through the first three games, Durant averaged 34.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He also led the series with six blocked shots and had affected countless others. At one point in the series, Durant had been credited with altering 17 shots. The Cavaliers shot 2-or-17 on those attempts. Durant also made the game-winning three to put the Warriors ahead late in Game Three.
LeBron James has been his usual brilliant self for Cleveland. James is averaging 32.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists. He also has four steals and four blocks. It's the sort of performance that would warrant consideration for MVP as a losing player, if Durant and Curry hadn't been so dominant in the series.
James has 17 turnovers in the series, easily the most of any player. That tells you how often he has the ball in his hands, but also how good the Warriors are at getting their hands on the ball in the lane and in transition. Golden State is considered perhaps the great offensive team of all time, but it doesn't get enough credit for its defense.
The Cavs have been held to 41.7 percent shooting in the Finals. They've struggled badly from three-point range, shooting 29.8 percent from behind the arc. Cleveland made 43.5 percent of its threes in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But Durant and his mates have the ability to close quickly on deep shots. The Warriors led the league in three-point percentage defense in the regular season, and you can see why in the Finals.