CLEVELAND — Forget 3-1, what the Cavaliers need to focus on right now is that the Golden State Warriors also blew a 2-0 lead.
That’s where the Cavs are again today — trailing the Warriors by two very large margins entering Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Tip-off is Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Only this time, the game is at Quicken Loans Arena. And man oh man, it can’t feel better than to be back home for the Cavs. At least at home they only need to contend with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, and not the screaming fans who root for them in the Bay Area.
This time, the roaring fans will be on the Cavs’ side.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Cavs star LeBron James told reporters. “Our fans are looking forward to it; we know that. We have to give them something to cheer for.”
James always gives the fans something for which to cheer. That’s never in doubt. Now all he needs are some of his teammates to join him.
Actually, power forward Kevin Love has been pretty good, too.
But let’s start with James. In the two games vs. the Warriors, he’s averaging 28.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 11.0 assists. Meanwhile, Love is at 21.0 points and 14.0 rebounds.
So those two are undoubtedly doing their part.
At home, however, the Cavs will need more from the likes of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and a whole slew of bench players.
Anyone who’s followed this series already knows all about how the aforementioned can’t get going. So forget the fact the Cavs can’t stop the Warriors — but aside from James and Love, and occasionally Irving, no one has been making the opponent work defensively.
But now comes the defending champions’ last line of defense. Now comes home.
The Cavs have lost at The Q just once this postseason. And that was in the Eastern Conference finals, when they sort of just ran up and down the floor vs. the Boston Celtics.
You’d think the Cavs won’t sleepwalk through this sort of game, at this time of the season.
TIME TO GET ROLE-ING
It is true that role players tend to play better at home than they do on the road. Role players often make the difference in the game. Everyone knows the stars will do their thing.
So far, the Cavs’ reserves of Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson have been outplayed by their Warriors counterparts. Men such as Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee have haunted the Cavs.
Of course, with as poorly as Smith has played, he may be SENT to the bench, with Shumpert moving into the starting lineup. Of all the reserves, Shumpert has looked the best. Of all the starters, Smith has looked the worst. Since they play the same shooting guard position, a move by coach Tyronn Lue might make sense.
Either way, the Cavs need to find something, anything, to keep going, to keep believing, to spit in the face of a basketball universe that more or less believes they are toast.
Sometimes, home can can conquer all.
And for the Cavs, home is the best hope to overcome 2-0 once again.
“They took care of business on their home court,” Thompson told reporters. “Now it’s time to go home and win Game 3.”