LeBron Durant Cavaliers Warriors
LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 3, 2018 in Oakland, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been here before. In fact, they’ve been in this exact spot in each of the last three years—trailing the Golden State Warriors 2-0 in the NBA Finals before playing Game 3 at home.

Cleveland responded in Game 3 of the 2016 Finals, winning by 30 points before eventually mounting a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. The Cavs came up short in their first home game of last year’s Finals, blowing a four-point lead in the final 90 seconds at Quicken Loans Arena.

The circumstances surrounding the 2018 version of Cavaliers-Warriors are certainly different than they were in any of the previous meetings. Cleveland no longer has Kyrie Irving, forcing LeBron James to carry a burden similar to the one he carried in the 2015 Finals when both Irving and Kevin Love were injured.

James has responded to his lack of support with a postseason for the ages. He’s made the amazing look routine, scoring more than 40 points or nearing a triple-double on an almost nightly basis.

In most games against the Eastern Conference, James’ heroics were enough to put Cleveland in the win column. Through two games against the defending champions, the world’s greatest basketball player hasn’t been able to steal a victory by himself.

The sixth-ever 50-point performance in Finals history by James almost allowed the Cavs to win the series opener. When James scored 29 points and came one rebound shy of posting a triple-double in Game 2, the Cavs were blown out 122-103.

What does that mean for Cleveland’s chances in Game 3?

James doesn’t have to put up more than 50 points to give the Cavs a chance, though he might have to come close. Considering he’s scored at least 42 points in 40 percent of Cleveland’s 20 playoff games, James might be due for a 45-50 point game after falling short of the 30-point mark Sunday. He’s shot worse than 50 percent from the field just once in the last 12 games.

Cleveland’s hopes will rest on the shoulders of the other Cavaliers. Head coach Tyronn Lue essentially knows what he’s getting from his best player. He doesn’t know what players two through 12 will produce.

James’ supporting cast simply didn’t hit enough shots in Game 1 and Game 2. They went a combined 14-53 from three-point range and 52-137 overall from the field. J.R. Smith has missed 14 of his 19 shots, while Kyle Korver made just one three-pointer. Eastern Conference Finals hero Jeff Green has 13 points on 16 shots.

There is reason to believe those numbers will improve in both Game 3 and Game 4. The old adage that role players perform better at home has certainly held true for this Cavaliers’ team. It’s why the Cavs are 8-1 at home this postseason, having scored at least 105 points in each of their last six games in Cleveland.

Kevin Love is shooting 38.5 percent from three at home and 29.1 percent on the road. Smith has 39.0 percent/34.4 percent splits, while Korver’s 55.3 percent/34.5 percent splits are stark.

Even James has played better at home, averaging 38.1 points on 58.7 percent field-goal shooting in Cleveland. He’s scoring 31.7 points on 51 percent shooting on the road.

The Warriors can be beaten on the road. They haven’t been close to perfect away from Oracle Arena like they were in Kevin Durant’s first postseason with the team. Golden State lost Game 4 of their first-round series in San Antonio and Game 3 of their second-round series in New Orleans. The Houston Rockets won at home twice against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

As well as Stephen Curry has performed this series, his shot has been off at times during the postseason. Durant didn’t play particularly well in Game 1, and he hasn’t been perfect in the playoffs either.

If James has another one of his masterful performances in Game 3, Cleveland will be difficult to beat at home.

Game 3 Prediction: Cleveland over Golden State, 115-108