OAKLAND -- This is when memories of Oklahoma City become valuable to the Warriors. That feeling of being overpowered, of falling behind and having no prayer of a comeback and facing elimination that haunted them for a week.
Until they pulled themselves together, pulled out of their downward spiral and pulled off one of the most amazing recoveries in NBA playoff history.
If the Warriors take the sum of that experience with them to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers are done.
With anything less than a Warriors relapse, the series is over before it has a chance to return to Oakland.
They took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Sunday, dismantling the Cavaliers for the second consecutive time, dispatching them in Game 2 with a 110-77 blowout that bore little resemblance to their 15-point win in Game 1 with the exception of fabulous defense.
That element was as potently evident in Game 2 as it was in Game 1 -- as it has been most every time they’ve seen the Cavs since the Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
“Everything was about our defense tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And I was pleased with that. But we’ve got to get better offensively when we go to Cleveland.”
Well, yes, the Warriors offense was merely good in Games 1 and 2. They haven’t cracked the 30-assist barrier, which is Kerr’s standard for sharing the ball. Neither Stephen Curry nor Klay Thompson, the sharpshooting leading scorers, has had a nuclear game or even a modestly warm quarter.
Somehow, though, the Warrior are shooting a 51.8 percent through the first two games. They’re beating Cleveland in the paint and torturing the Cavs for their turnovers -- which have accounted for 23.8 percent of the Warriors 214 points.
It’s the defense, best illustrated in Game 2 by center Andrew Bogut’s five blocks in 15 minutes and the team’s ongoing junkyard-dog harassment of Cleveland’s LeBron James, who committed seven turnovers in 34 minutes before retiring to the bench to watch helplessly until the Warriors disappeared from view.
“We just tried to be as active as possible,” Kerr said of defending James. “We have a lot of speed on our team and like-size players who can kind of help and recover and switch.
“You have to be able to help on LeBron and get back out to shooters, and it’s a very difficult job. Our guys did a good job of that today.”
James insisted he was neither disappointed nor frustrated, even though this loss snapped a personal nine-game win streak in Game 2s following a Game 1 defeat.
“They beat us at (everything); we didn’t win anything,” James said. “At no point of the game did we beat them in anything. Even when we had an early lead, they beat us to 50-50 balls, they got extra possessions, they got extra tip-ins.
“They beat us pretty good tonight.”
The Warriors held the Cavs to 35.4-percent shooting from the field, 21.7 beyond the 3-point stripe. Cleveland’s All-Stars -- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and James -- combined to miss 24 of 38 shots. Their teammates combined to miss 27 of 41 attempts.
“To hold this team to 77 points -- that’s a very good ball club -- that’s not something that’s easy to do,” said Draymond Green, who submitted a game-high 28 points and his usual fine defense. “But we really locked in. We stuck to the game plan, and we’ve been able to do that.”
The game plan against the Cavs has been spectacularly successful. The Warriors have beaten them seven consecutive times, beginning with Game 4 of the 2015 Finals, giving James a personal seven-game losing streak against a team for the first time in his career.
The Warriors are bossing the Cavs around; the combined 48-point win margin in the first two games is the largest point differential ever through Games 1 and 2 of a Finals.
As long as the Warriors remember how they rebounded from back-to-back losses to the Thunder, there is no easy answer for the Cavs. And to hear Green tell it, the Warriors carry as badges the scar tissue from that epic seven-game Western Conference Finals that ended on Memorial Day.
“That was a very tough series,” he said. “It’s like anything in life, you go through something tough and you make it through, you grow from it. And I think we definitely grew from that series, with it being so tough.”
The evidence is not yet conclusive. It can’t be until the Warriors step onto the court in Cleveland.