Only three teams in NBA Finals history have ever come back from an 0-2 series deficit, a fact that only ups the ante for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they prep for the Golden State Warriors and Sunday night’s Game 2 at Oracle Arena.
What’s even more worrisome for LeBron James and the Cavs is the fact that Golden State’s two best players didn’t play all that well and still pulled off Game 1’s 104-89 lopsided victory.
Point guard Shaun Livingston came off the bench to lead the Warriors in scoring with 20 points, equaling the combined total of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, while Leandro Barbosa and Andre Iguodala chipped in 23 points and six assists.
Curry and Thompson went 8-for-27 from the floor, and Golden State’s normally red-hot 3-point shooting slipped to 33.3 percent.
Still, the Cavs struggled just as much from long-range and recorded the same percentage, failing to look like the same team that lit up the Eastern Conference through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Turnovers were also a problem for Cleveland. James and forward Kevin Love committed eight of the Cavs 15 giveaways, though the former came one assist away from a triple-double. James netted 23 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, and Love had 17 points and 13 rebounds while Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 26.
The difference proved to be on the bench. The Cavs got 10 points from Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Iman Shumpert.
Cleveland now hopes to steal home-court away from Golden State before the series turns back East for Games 3 and 4. The last team to win after losing the first two games of the finals was the Miami Heat over Dallas in 2006, and before them you have to go all the way back to 1977 when the Portland Trail Blazers would rip off four-straight from Philadelphia.
Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue said he’s directed James to push the ball the more, especially off Golden State’s misses.
Meanwhile Irving feels the offense needs to strike a better balance between ball movement and isolation play calls.
"That's why I came out and said that for me, being better in the scoring areas rather than settling for mid-range jumpshots where I'm coming off pick-and-rolls in the last few series and bigs are dropping all the way back," Irving told Cleveland.com. "But now it's the one-on-one challenge of just beating your guy. So you've got to find that balance, though. That's the most important part. Because when you're going one-on-one, guys are still watching you, and the offense kind of becomes stagnant."
Betting Odds: Golden State -6.5
Over/Under: 209 points
Prediction: Golden State over Cleveland, 107-103
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Online Stream: Watch ESPN