With 4:03 left in the fourth quarter of Game 3, Kevin Durant found Andre Iguodala with a bounce pass and the Warriors forward went up for a dunk. While the replays on the ABC broadcast weren’t pristine, it looked like LeBron James got a piece of it:
With the Warriors locked in a crucial, close game with the Cavs, one couldn’t help but recall another LeBron James block on Andre Iguodala:
No one would mistake “The Block” from last year’s finals for Game 3’s “Maybe a Block?,” but the less-emphatic sequel did come at an important time. The Cavs were up by three and trying to close out a game they desperately needed to win. After that missed Iguodala dunk and a few empty possessions for both teams, J.R. Smith hit a three-pointer and the Cavs were fully in control.
And then, a few minutes later, the Cavs were losing.
Nine straight points for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant put the Warriors up three with 12 seconds to go. The Cavs still had a chance, and when LeBron caught an inbounds pass in the corner, he seemed to have plenty of space to fire up a three. But then came Andre Iguodala. Specifically, his hands. A flash of hands.
It was a gamble. Any hint of a foul, and LeBron would be at the line with a chance to tie the game. But this was a clean block. LeBron, who is not exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to complaining about adverse refereeing decisions, didn’t bother to make his case to the officials. When the ball trickled out of bounds, he simply threw it off the court in frustration.
James shot 4 for 9 from three and was in a good rhythm from deep all game. Had he gone up unimpeded—well, we’ll never know, because Iguodala made sure he was extremely impeded. While the box score lists that last-minute intervention as a block, it could just as easily have been called a steal. For the sake of poetic redemption, it’s nice the statistician chose the former.
In the end, though, Game 3 of the 2017 Finals was less reminiscent of last year’s Game 7 than it was of the first finals matchup between the Cavs and Warriors. In the 2015 Cavs-Warriors series, it was Iguodala who won Finals MVP largely for his gnarly defensive work on LeBron.
Iguodala won’t be winning Finals MVP again this year, but his block in Game 3 will likely ensure that someone on his team does.