CLEVELAND -- For the fourth consecutive postseason series, the Warriors have taken a 3-0 lead, each time leaving their opponent looking dazed and glazed and searching for answers they've already failed to find.
First the Trail Blazers, and then the Jazz, and then the Spurs, all expressing a vocal futility that translates to competitive despair.
And now, in the wake of a 118-113 Game 3 loss Wednesday night that has them one loss away from being swept, gloom has descended upon the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Veteran guard JR Smith, scrambling for optimism amid stark and dark reality, tweeted postgame "Cavs in 7."
Within minutes, about as quickly as the Warriors deleted Cleveland's late-game lead, Smith deleted the tweet.
Where on earth do the Cavs go after this?
There they were, leading the entire fourth quarter, and by six with 2:25 remaining, on their home court, when it all fell apart.
What happened, coach Tyronn Lue?
"I got to look at it," he said. "I don't know. I can't remember."
What say you, LeBron James?
"They made some shots and we didn't," he said.
The Warriors closed the game on an 11-0 run, using fierce defense, completely shutting down the Cavs, while staying assertive on offense. Cleveland shot 26.1 percent in the fourth quarter and missed its last eight shots.
"We were aggressive; we got good shots," All-Star forward Kevin Love said. "We just weren't able to convert, and they made big plays. In the end, that was pretty telling."
James was incredible: 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists -- all for naught.
Asked if the Warriors withstood the Cavs best shot, James was in no mood to deny.
"I mean, it's so hard to say," he began, "But like I said, for me personally, I gave everything I had tonight.
James' superstar teammate, Kyrie Irving, was mesmerizingly good: 38 points, six rebounds, three assists -- and a loss that took the air out him as well as Quicken Loans Arena.
"I'm human, as well as my teammates, and to lay it all on the line like that, you want to come out on the winning side," he said. "But we gave a great effort, and the result just didn't turn out the way we wanted to."
The Cavs outfoxed the Warriors for much of the night. They committed fewer turnovers (12, to 18 for the Warriors). They were, through three quarters, outshooting the Warriors (50.7 percent, to 46.9).
And, still, they're facing elimination, just like the Trail Blazers and the Jazz and the Spurs, none of which survived Game 4.
Asked if he could have envisioned a game in which he and James combined for 77 points and the Cavs don't win, Irving had nothing.
Well, except praise for the Warriors.
"Nope. I mean, it's hard to envision," he said.
"But they're definitely a different team than they were last year that's definitely in full effect that we're all fully aware of."