We all know the statistic: No team in NBA history has come from 0-3 down to win an NBA title. None.
Cleveland comes home for Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night down 0-2, and LeBron James is very clear about what all this means.
“Obviously, it’s a do-or-die game for us,” LeBron said at practice 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. So it’s a do-or-die game for us, and we understand that.”
Urgency — or as Tyronn Lue has said, “playing with force” — has been lacking for the Cavaliers this series. The Cavaliers have not won the battle for loose balls or on the boards, and that combined with inconsistent defense has left them looking overmatched. Playing with fire is the one thing that coming home should change for the Cavs.
Lue tried to put a more traditional spin on the first two games, saying the Warriors have only held home court and that now his Cavaliers just need to do the same. Sounds good on paper. The reality is they lost those first two games by a record combined 48 points and didn’t look competitive. Can home cooking change that?
“Just being at home, they won two games on their home floor, and we’re confident in coming back home here,” Lue said. “We haven’t lost here all Playoffs. We play very well, and our guys understand that. They’re a good team. That’s why they won 73 games this year, and they play well at home. They had two big games and now we’ve got to come home and protect our home court.”
The bigger question is how do the Cavaliers do that?
Lue was careful not to give away any strategy or lineup changes (such as if we will see more Timofey Mozgov), but he did preach that the team in general — and Kyrie Irving in particular — needs to stop being hesitant.
“Just talking to Kyrie about attacking, attacking early on in the shot clock,” Lue said. “Don’t let the switching make him stagnant. But he’s one of the players that we have on our team that can go one-on-one, because they’re switching one through five. But he has to make sharp, quick moves. He understands that, but we need Kyrie to be aggressive.”
If you want a more detailed breakdown of what to expect from Cleveland in Game 3, check out the latest PBT Podcast with Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman.