CLEVELAND -- There's a bottom line in these NBA Finals: Ultimately, the Golden State Warriors are just too good, too deep and have too large a margin of error.
Never before has the league seen this collection of talent thanks to planning, hard work and the "unforeseen consequences" of the salary-cap spike that's soon to deliver the first of what could be a string of championships.
Behold the mastery of the assembled Warriors, who are just one win away from a perfect four-four-four-four postseason after taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 in a tour-de-force Game 3 on Wednesday night.
There were many details that can be broken down ad nauseam. The Cavs made some crucial mistakes in the fourth quarter and ran out of gas as a collective unit after 45 minutes of battling a fierce Golden State team. The Warriors finished the game on an 11-0 run over the last 3 minutes, 8 seconds of the game. It was a run that, for all intents and purposes, can be traced back to a union meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on a Friday evening in February 2014.
In that player's union meeting, the membership voted to reject a proposal from the league to phase in a coming spike in the salary cap, a so-called "smoothing process." It wasn't without deep thought and analysis from top accounting firms, which union head Michele Roberts explained in a news conference with the union leadership assembled around her.
And so here we are, about three and a half years later and the Warriors up 3-0 in this year's NBA Finals.
"It's probably the most firepower I've played in my career," LeBron James said. "I played against some great teams, but I don't think no team has had this type of firepower. So even when you're playing well, you got to play like A-plus-plus, because they're going to make runs and they're going to make shots and they got guys that's going to make plays."
The Cavs employed an array of strategy and lineup changes, trying to open things up for James and Kyrie Irving. Kyle Korver and Richard Jefferson got a boost in minutes, and the Cavs turned up their effort level, diving for loose balls and sailing into the sideline trying to save any possession possible.
James and Irving delivered everything they could, using all their skill, their wind and, at times, their mental toughness. James finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as he continued to put up historical numbers.
Irving had 38 points and six rebounds as he fought to keep the Cavs afloat offensively and keep up with the repeated gut punches the Warriors delivered. But every mistake the Cavs made -- and there were a lot of them -- the Warriors were there to penalize them.
"They're a juggernaut of a team," Irving said. "They're definitely a different team than they were last year, that's definitely in full effect, that we're all fully aware of."
There were so many crucial moments in the fourth quarter when the Cavs had a chance to extend the lead. Three times when up five points, they got clean looks at 3-pointers, and Korver, Kevin Love and JR Smith all missed. Inside two minutes and up by six points, Irving missed a layup that would have extended their lead to three possessions.
Korver got a wide open 3-pointer late that could have changed the course of the proceedings -- but no. Maybe had James been able to better challenge a dagger, go-ahead 3-pointer from Kevin Durant, who scored several crushing baskets in the final stretch, things might have been different.
But here's the bottom line: The Cavs aren't good enough to beat the monster they're playing. The Warriors haven't lost with all four All-Stars healthy since Feb. 13 and they weren't losing four times in these two weeks.
That's a reality an exhausted James looked at in the face.
"I was tired, but that's just because I was just playing as hard as I could," James said. "I gave everything that I had. ... I left it out on the floor."