Last June, the Cavaliers lost the first two games of the NBA Finals by a combined 48 points but won Game 3 in Cleveland. This June, they lost the first two games of the NBA Finals by a combined 41 points, as the series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday.
So, can the Cavs do it again? Can they win Game 3 for the second straight season and make this a series again?
“Absolutely they could,” Yahoo! NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “Absolutely. We’ve seen this. Now listen, this isn’t the same Golden State team. Last year when they were up 2-0, Steph Curry was not himself physically. He was diminished. We could argue what percent it was, but he was diminished. He wasn’t the same player. Draymond Green gets suspended. So those things can happen.”
Still, there are some key differences between this year and last: Curry is healthy, Green has kept his emotions in check (relatively speaking), and the Warriors added that KD fella.
There’s also this: Golden State is 14-0 in the playoffs and has won 29 of 30 overall.
“As great as this Golden State team is – we have not seen really anything like them,” Wojnarowski said. “I don’t know what to compare them to. I think because of the three-point shot and how important that is to the game now, it’s made it even harder to compare what they are compared to the great Celtic/Laker teams or the Bulls teams because they didn’t shoot three-pointers like this. The league wasn’t built (like this). Teams weren’t built like this.
“But we know how Game 3 can go,” Wojnarowski continued. “(The Cavs) get home, LeBron and Kyrie are getting to the the free-throw line, the role players on Golden State miss a couple shots, Klay Thompson isn’t as hot, and all of a sudden J.R. Smith makes shots at home, a Shumpert makes some shots – we know how this can go. While there’s no question the Warriors are tremendous favorites, to underestimate Cleveland going home with the firepower that they have, playing at home – I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if it was 2-1. I’d probably be a little surprised if it was 2-2, but I don’t think it’s a false humility with Golden State because they know what’s across the court.”
That would be James and Irving, who each went off for 41 points in Game 5 of the Finals last season and carried the Cavs to a championship.
“(The Warriors) know what that team did to them last year,” Wojnarowski said. “Even if the circumstances were different and Durant wasn’t here, listen, to underestimate LeBron, to underestimate Kyrie Irving and the growth that you’ve seen in him the last couple of years – he’s a bonafide star in the league – (would be foolish). . . . I don’t think (the Warriors) feel like this thing’s over. When you lose 3-1 – I think even when you come back from 3-1 like they did last year – and then you lose one 3-1, you know how these series can swing when you have great players across the court.”