NBA Finals Game 3 Preview: Can the Warriors Wrap it Up?


Mark Gjuraj, Sports Editor

Entering the 2016/17 NBA Season, the reigning Western Conference Champions, the Golden State Warriors, were tipped as the favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the second time in three years. Coming off of a record-breaking 2015/16 season that saw them win 73 out of their 82 games (the most wins ever to be recorded in an NBA season) the Warriors cemented themselves as arguably the best regular season team in NBA history. Their feat, however, was quickly overshadowed by their failure to secure back-to-back titles, as they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, granting Cleveland professional sports their first title in 52 years. Now, a year later, the Warriors find themselves in a similar situation. The only difference is, this isn’t the same team.

Wednesday night will see the third game of the 2017 NBA Finals played in Quicken Loans Arena, otherwise known as “The Q.” The Warriors will look to continue their staggering 14 game playoff win streak, which is the longest streak of its kind in the history of the NBA. Just like in the 2016 Finals, the Warriors managed to blow out the Cavaliers in Games 1 and 2, with both margins of victory being over 18 points. The Cavaliers have been backed into a corner, and one slip up at home can see this series done and dusted. Having seen the ability of Cleveland to flip a series at any given moment, Cleveland fans would normally have no concerns regarding their team’s ability to make this series competitive. But, as Lebron James stated bluntly in his post-game interview last Thursday, there is one thing that stands out about this Warriors team: “KD.”

Kevin Durant, the 6’9″ small forward of the Golden States Warriors, joined the team as a free agent in the summer of 2016. Durant is recognized by many NBA fans and analysts as one of the most dynamic scorers in league history, with four scoring titles and an MVP under his belt. In the 2016 playoffs, Durant and his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, made it all the way to the Western Conference Championship, where they too blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors, prompting Durant to become a part of the team months later. With the likes of two-time MVP Stephen Curry, three-time All Star Klay Thompson, and defensive powerhouse Draymond Green, the Warriors have played up to expectations this season, winning 67 games and acquiring the first seed in the Western Conference. With perhaps the most explosive, skilled, and unique collection of players in league history, these Warriors are already drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan’s Bulls of the 90’s and the “Showtime” Lakers of the 80’s. If the Warriors can live up to the hype by winning, and potentially sweeping, the Cavaliers in these Finals, an unrelenting dynasty could very well take a firm grip on the NBA for years to come.