CLEVELAND -- The Warriors fought through it, survived it, can’t forget it and only in the past two days discussed it among themselves.
Being down in an NBA playoff series, and perhaps even counted out, makes no conclusive statement whatsoever.
Same with being up, which is their current status with a 2-0 lead over the Cavaliers, prompting bettors and observers to proclaim this series is over.
Suddenly, Cleveland in the NBA Finals against the Warriors is where the Warriors were in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City -– kaput in every way except the one that actually matters, which is the result on the court.
“That’s a great analogy, one that we’ve already used,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday, on the eve of Game 3. “It doesn’t matter what the scores are. Doesn’t matter if you win by 25 or lose by 25, it’s one game in the series and we got blown out twice in a row in OKC, down 3-1, and we were able to come back.”
Against tremendous odds, the Warriors won three in a row over the Thunder to take the series and advance to The Finals. The Warriors were the 10th team, out of 233, to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the postseason.
The Cavs are trying to become the fourth team, out of 32, to emerge from a 2-0 hole to win the NBA Finals.
“Obviously, it’s a do-or-die game for us,” Cleveland star LeBron James said. “We can’t afford to go down 3-0 to any team, especially a team that’s 73-9 in the regular season and playing the type of basketball they’re playing.
"So it’s a do-or-die game for us, and we understand that. We’re going to come in and give everything that we’ve got and leave it on the floor."
The Warriors simply want to avoid the potential pitfalls that can follow back-to-back decisive victories.
“Don’t read too much into the media,” guard Klay Thompson said. “Don’t be on Twitter all the time. Don’t be on the Internet. It’s just going to inflate your ego or make you feel bad about yourself.”
The Warriors' comeback against the Thunder was a matter of a championship team exhibiting more composure at key moments of the final three games. OKC, so brilliant in Games 3 and 4, was not ready for The Moment. The Warriors, one year after earning championship jewelry, were.
The Cavs don’t have a championship pedigree to rely on, much less drive them forward. They are the underdog team representing perhaps America’s most heartbreakingly underdog sports town.
Through the first two games, they’ve got LeBron James and long-suffering fans with slowly diminishing faith, and not much else. There was in Games 1 and 2 no indication of the Cavs finding solutions to the problems posed by the Warriors. ... Kind of like the Warriors felt after Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City.
“We’ve been on the other side of a big comeback,” Stephen Curry said, “and obviously have seen other teams do it as well. So if there’s anything we know, it’s that it’s possible.
“There are a lot of talented guys in that Cleveland locker room that are capable of having big games. We need to stay on the aggressive route and not protect the lead but try to come out, especially on the road, and be a better team than we were in the first two games.”