If you felt a sense of déjà vu watching Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals, you’re not alone.
Kevin Durant dominated in the Golden State Warriors’ 110-102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, scoring a playoff career-high 43 points and punctuating the win with a 3-pointer with 49.8 seconds remaining.
Durant’s dagger — a pull-up 3-pointer from the left wing — increased Golden State’s lead from three points to six points, all but sealing the victory, and was eerily similar to the clutch 3-pointer he drilled in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals, when he put the Warriors ahead for good with 45 seconds left.
Here’s a look at both shots, via ESPN, along with some commentary on each:
Here’s a side-by-side look, courtesy of NBA TV:
LeBron James was quick to point out the differences after Wednesday’s game, though both shots obviously were huge. The Warriors, just like last season, now own a 3-0 series lead.
“That wasn’t the same shot,” James told reporters in Cleveland. “The one he made (Wednesday) was about four or five feet behind the one he made last year. Last year, we were up two, and he pulled up pretty much right at the 3-point line and I got a great contest, but he made it.
“(Wednesday), they’re up three. They come off a pick-and-roll and he just stopped behind and pulled four or five feet behind the 3-point line. So, same wing, different location.
“But you definitely tip your hat. I mean, that’s what he does. He’s a scorer. You know, he’s an assassin and that was one of those assassin plays right there.”
This will go down as a signature game for Durant, who’s on the cusp of winning his second NBA championship in as many seasons with the Warriors. Perhaps he’ll add another NBA Finals MVP to his résumé, too, as Durant’s performance in Game 3 helped Golden State overcome shaky efforts from both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who scored just 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images