The Golden State Warriors have made plenty of history this season, but they are hoping to win Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and avoid having to make even more. A loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night would put the defending champs in a 0-2 series hole, forcing them to put together the type of comeback that few NBA teams have ever been able to pull off.
Only 17 of the 260 NBA teams that have gone down 0-2 in a seven-game series have come back to advance to the next round, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Of the 59 conference finals matchups that have started 0-2, just four teams have won the series after falling into such a hole.
Before losing to the Warriors in five games last round, the Portland Trail Blazers were able to buck the historical trend and win Games 3-6 to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. But not only did the Clippers lose Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injuries, the Blazers never lost a home game.
"I would prefer to go 16-0 in the playoffs and win the championship with 30-point games every time," head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Tuesday. "The reality is that this is what it's about. I was part of five championship teams as a player. It was never easy, and every team that I was on that won a title lost at least a home game during the playoffs. So it happens. There's a reason we pour champagne on each other when we win. It's hard, and it's a grind, and this is a great reminder of that."
Golden State relinquished home-court advantage in Game 1, and they are back at Oracle Arena in Game 2, playing where they went 45-2 before Monday’s loss. Only three of 23 teams have won a seven-game series after dropping Game 1 and Game 2 at home, and teams are 0-9 trying to do so in the conference finals.
The 2007 Utah Jazz were the last team to do what Golden State would have to attempt if they lose Game 2, coming back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the No.5 seed Houston Rockets in seven games in the first round. But this year’s Thunder are far better than that Rockets team.
Oklahoma City is playing at a level above their regular-season performance, having defeated the 67-win San Antonio Spurs in the second round. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the NBA’s elite players, and they aren’t likely to relinquish a 2-0 series lead if they’re headed back home.
The Warriors badly need to win Game 2. They are in an unfamiliar position, having dominated opponents throughout their record-setting season. The team, however, is embracing the obstacles they now face.
"He smiled and said, 'We ain't been here before,'" Draymond Green said, referring to a conversation he had with Stephen Curry after Game 1. "I said, 'Yeah, I know. I like this. This will be fun.' Because if you can bounce back from something like this, it makes it all the more sweeter. So I'm relishing this opportunity. This is where you see what you're really made of. This is where you bounce back and everybody is against you and don't think you can do it. This is where it gets fun."
Most everything has been easy for the Warriors this season, even as Curry battled ankle and knee injuries in the first two rounds. But that wasn’t the case during last year’s championship run. Golden State trailed the Memphis Grizzlies heading into Game 4 on the road, and the Warriors won three straight contests by double-digits to reach the conference finals. They found themselves in the same situation against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, only to go on and win three in a row by an average of 14 points.
Minus Gm 4 in HOU when he got hurt, Curry's averages in games after last 5 Warriors losses:
53.6 FG% (6.6 3FGM)
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 18, 2016
The Warriors are the only team in history that hasn’t lost back-to-back games, and Oklahoma City has won three straight road games against the NBA’s elite. One of those streaks will end on Wednesday night.
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Online Stream: WatchTNT