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CLEVELAND (AP) – Golden State has won the first two games of the NBA Finals, both of those wins coming by double figures and with a few dominant stretches of basketball in there.
Strange as this sounds, that has the Warriors feeling a bit uneasy.
The champions know exactly how fast a series can change, having just pulled off a mathematically improbable comeback from 3-1 down against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. And even with the odds now stacked high against Cleveland in these NBA Finals, the Warriors say they cannot fall into the trap of thinking this series that resumes with Game 3 on Wednesday night is already over.
“That’s a great analogy, one that we’ve already used,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter what the scores are, doesn’t matter if you win by 25 or lose by 25, it’s one game in the series. And we got blown out twice in a row in OKC, down 3-1, and we were able to come back. We know we’re playing against a great team.
They’re coming home. They can change the momentum around with just one win.”
Cleveland hopes he’s right.
The Cavs might be without concussed Kevin Love for Game 3, but they are 7-0 at home in these playoffs – winning by an average of 20.9 points.
“It’s a do-or-die game for us,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said. “We can’t afford to go down 3-0 to any team, especially a team that’s 73-9 in the regular season and playing the type of basketball they’re playing.”
When the Warriors were on the brink of elimination against the Thunder, history suggested that they had a 3.9 percent chance to win the series – 232 previous NBA teams were down 3-1 in a best-of-seven, and only nine won.
Compared to that, Cleveland’s chances look fabulous.
“We’re not in that bad of shape as they were – 3-1 is worse than 2-0,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “And they came back and took it one game at a time, like we have to do.”
Teams that have fallen behind 2-0 in the NBA Finals have rallied to win 9.7 percent of the time, with three of them getting it done in 31 past opportunities. The 1969 Boston Celtics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and 2006 Miami Heat all lost the first two games of the finals on the road before winning the title – the Celtics doing so in seven games, the Blazers and Heat getting it done in six.
“History,” Lue said, “is something that’s made to be broken.”