Bucher: LeBron "Didn't Get It Done"

Cleveland's supporting cast showed up in Game 3, but LeBron James couldn't get them over the hump

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
June 08, 2018 - 5:45 am

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It was a game the Cavaliers had to win, it was a game they could have won, and ultimately, it was a game they lost. 

Yes, despite leading by double digits, Cleveland lost to Golden State, 110-102, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday. Steph Curry had as bad of a shooting performance as you’ll see from him – 3-of-16 from the floor, including 1-of-10 from three – and Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Rodney Hood combined for 48 points.

That’s a game LeBron James must win.

“The supporting cast was there,” Bleacher Report NBA insider Ric Bucher said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Rodney Hood gave them buckets, Kevin Love gave them buckets, and it was there for LeBron to take over and bring home down the stretch.”

He didn’t. James had another great stat line – 33 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks – but he came up short in crunch time, deferring to teammates on several key possessions.

“This is the thing I was worried about early on,” Bucher said. “I was seeing he was getting everybody going and guys were knocking down shots, but LeBron really wasn’t consistently taking shots. I thought, ‘He’s going to have the game on the line at the end, and is he going to be in a rhythm where he’s going to have the confidence to take it over?’ I didn’t see that at the end.”

The Cavs led 58-52 at halftime but were outscored 58-44 thereafter. Kevin Durant went off for 43 points, and Jordan Bell, Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee combined for 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting (76.5 percent).

Cleveland’s supporting cast kept the Cavs in the game. James, however, couldn’t get them over the hump.

“He was aggressive driving, but he just gave it up a little too easily for me,” Bucher said. “The game was in the balance. This is the game in the series (they had to win), and it was there for him – and he didn’t take it. I can’t say it shocked me, but it disappointed me. Because I think for this playoff run, that’s what he showed time and time again. He didn’t have anybody else to lean on and he was going to go get it done. This was the moment where the guys finally came together around him and gave him that opportunity, and he didn’t get it done.”

Game 4 is Friday in Cleveland at 9 p.m. ET. Game 5, if necessary, is Monday in Oakland at 9 p.m. ET.