CHICAGO -- Author Mary Roach once wrote that the only things more fearful than death are its prologues.
The sadness. The decay. The pain. And the inevitability of it all.
Those are the emotions wrapping up the Cleveland Cavaliers as they face an 0-3 deficit in these 2018 NBA Finals. Game 4 on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) at the Quicken Loans Arena is a mere formality, a chance for the Golden State Warriors to swipe a sweep and end their nemesis' suffering.
The time of death was 49.8 seconds deep in the fourth quarter of Game Three. Kevin Durant, also known as the Slim Reaper, sank a dagger 3 from 33-feet to give the Warriors a 106-100 lead, and, for all intents and purposes, Golden State's third title in four years.
In the next 24 hours or so, King James and his overmatched army will see the life on their ill-fated championship run flash before their teary eyes.
George Hill's missed Game 1 free throw will be in that blur. So will J.R. Smith's blunder, Kyle Korver's disappearance and the collective incompetence of Cavs players not named LeBron James and Kevin Love.
Hope is the best defense against these Warriors. You just hope they miss.
And miss they did. Big and plenty.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were "splash-less" in Cleveland, scoring just 21 points between them on a combined 7-of-27 from the field including an arctic 3-of-15 from 3-point range.
After taking a 50-37 lead following a triple by Love at the 4:06 mark of the second period, the Cavaliers were in great shape. J.R. Smith, who had 13 points, was cooking. Rodney Hood was popping off the bench with 15, and the home crowd of 20,562 was roaring.
And then the Warriors spoiled the party.
Trailing 58-52 at the half, Golden State went on a 31-23 tear to assume an 83-81 bubble entering the final 12 minutes. By then, the way this championship series has gone so far, there was an ominous sense that the Warriors will be more poised in the homestretch of a brawl that saw 11 lead changes and nine ties.
Durant finished with 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. He nailed 15 of 23 field goals and sank six triples. And he was perfect from the line, 7-for-7.
KD played like the real MVP.
As his kingdom was burning, a thoroughly defeated King James could only marvel at the enemy with the torch.
"His ability to handle the ball, to shoot the ball, make plays at his length, his size, his speed.....He's an assassin," LeBron said of Durant.
But the other guys hurt the Cavs just as bad.
JaVale McGee and Jordan Bell combined for 20 points and nine rebounds. Shaun Livingston made four of five shots for eight points while Andre Iguodala returned from a 17-day absence with a flourish, finishing with eight points in 22 minutes. Iggy's strip off Love in the final minute paved the way for Durant's killer 3.
There have only been nine triple-double performances in the history of the NBA Finals. LeBron owns five of those, including Game Three's 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. But the feat will wind up only as a worthless footnote in Finals lore.
The digits that matter right now are 3-0. Warriors.
With LeBron about to go down 3-6 in Finals play, a pedestrian 33.3 percent clip, do you really think he can still become the GOAT over Michael Jordan who went 6-for-6 in the NBA Finals?
There's this silly notion that the Warriors will surrender Game Four so they can celebrate win Game Five at the Oracle Arena and celebrate with their fans.
That idea is as stupid as believing that the Cavaliers really had a chance in this series to begin with.
I said this all along, boys and girls.
Warriors in four.