Cleveland: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers desperately seek a way to beat the Golden State Warriors, but they are running out of time to prove their NBA Finals rivals aren’t invincible.
The Warriors, on an NBA record 14-game play-off win streak, lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven championship series entering on Wednesday’s third game at Cleveland. No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA play-off series.
“We have to defend our home court,” said Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. “It definitely is a must win.”
Golden State could become the first NBA team to make an unbeaten playoff run to the crown, having swept Portland, Utah and San Antonio and overpowered the Cavaliers twice at home to open the finals.
“We’re going to go home and watch the film to see ways we can be better,” James said. “Do things, I don’t want to say differently because you work so hard to get to this point, but make a couple of changes to see if we can be a lot better defensively and offensively.”
Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who left Oklahoma City for Golden State last July in hopes of winning his first NBA crown, had LeBron-like numbers — 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, five blocked shots and three steals — in a 132-113 romp Sunday in game two.
Asked the difference between this year and last year, James simply said, “K.D.” and added, “They are a different team.”
The Cavaliers forced 20 turnovers compared to a finals record-tying four in game one, for all the good it did them.
“We forced them to 20 turnovers and they still beat us pretty good, so we got to be much better too,” James said.
“I’m not a past guy too much. I’m more of a present guy so we just got to figure out how we can be better in game three.”
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry added 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his first finals triple double.
Curry’s pairing with Durant is already being compared to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan with Scottie Pippen as among the greatest duos in NBA Finals history.
Durant wants to prove he’s a champion after years of big numbers but no titles while Curry and others want to prove last year’s finals loss to Cleveland, when the Cavaliers rallied from 3-1 down to win in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, was a bump in the road for a dynasty team.
“We still remember what happened last year,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “It’s fresh in our minds.”