Warriors near sweep of Cavs

LeBron James knew what might happen when Kevin Durant merged with the Warriors, a 73-win team out for revenge.

Golden State's 118-113 victory over Cleveland was the closest game of the series and the most-watched Game 3 ever on ABC, according to Nielsen numbers announced Thursday.

Golden State's flawless postseason is over.

The Warriors won their first 15 playoff games, the longest postseason streak in North American sport history, but 48 minutes from a party they've been planning for a year has been put on hold.

James said after Game 3 that it takes an A-plus-plus game to beat the Warriors, and the Cavs delivered one Friday.

As this best-of-seven series moves to Game Four, scheduled for Friday night (tomorrow, Singapore time) in Cleveland, the only question left seems to be whether the Warriors can become the first team in National Basketball Association history to finish the play-offs with a 16-0 record. Golden State should also expect to take Cleveland's best shot again in Game 4, but the mentality of the defending champs has to be fragile at best right now. They're going to be wanting a win from their team.

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How do the Cavaliers get out of this cycle, especially in a game with just one day off between (the only game in the series with one day of rest)?

"Obviously it's working and we have to keep that keyhole mentality of: What's next?" Steve Kerr made his return to the Warriors' bench after missing the previous 11 games. "Why not?" James said.

No NBA team have ever found their way back after losing the first three games of a best-of-seven series but James was not ready to admit defeat.

Irving scored 40 points, hitting 15-of-27 shots from the floor and 7-of-12 3-pointers, while James added 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to pull the Cavaliers within 3-1 in the best-of-seven championship series. Golden State will be at full strength this time, and while the Warriors have finally lost a game, they haven't lost any confidence.

But Durant's three-point dagger over James was precisely the type of play the Warriors must have had in mind when they signed him last July in hopes of avenging their NBA Finals loss to the Cavs past year.

Kevin Love made six 3-pointers and added 23 points for Cleveland, which made 24 3s, another Finals mark.

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The spread closed Golden State minus-4 at many sports books, meaning its backers needed both free throws while Cleveland bettors' hopes of at least one miss were extinguished.

Warriors: Were trying to become the first team to complete a postseason unbeaten.

He would have been thrilled by Durant, who was Golden State's biggest prize in the off-season, and the forward showed exactly why the Warriors were so keen to get him. While that final Game 7 loss - which came at home - stung, said Green, it inspired him to make what ended up being two very important phone calls before he even left the parking lot of Oracle Arena that night. We just kept our composure. So I don't want to relax or feel like it's over.

Kerr mockingly agreed, saying after the Warriors' shootaround that "the game gets worse as time goes on" and "players are less talented than they used to be".

In that respect, James may be in a situation similar to 2007, when he got the Cavs to the NBA Finals only to be swept by the more talented San Antonio Spurs, who won their third title in five years.

One win from his first championship and probably the NBA Finals MVP award along with it, Durant is the ideal player in the flawless place.

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